Buddies came about after listening to the ideas of people with disabilities and hearing how their visions for their own lives were not always available to them. Ideas about autonomy, independence and having a central place where they could go and meet friends without the rigidity of organised activity were common themes. Buddies is a parent led set up.
It is recognised that there are a lot of great activities and clubs available in the Dumfries area for adults with disabilities however these often tend not to happen within a one space area. It was the sense of wanting to belong to something that you had a say in the running of that helped develop the concept of Buddies.
Buddies is run on a ‘club’ style model and is all about the members: it is whatever they want it to be. Buddies is not the same thing to all members: members have very individual experiences which contribute to common outcomes.
At Buddies we support members to achieve outcomes from four main themes:
• Reinforcement of life skills (including kitchen skills, keeping fit and healthy and literacy and numeracy)
• Making and maintaining friendships
• Improving confidence encouraging independence
Inputs to achieving outcomes are delivered in a non-didactic way and with an emphasis on fun and learning interaction.
Buddies is aimed at those people who need life skills reinforcing and/or those wanting social interaction within a safe environment. Buddies’ staff and volunteers will work with those who initially need their own support staff until they feel confident enough to access the club independently.
Buddies has an amazing team of PVG checked and trained staff and volunteers. Our service is intended for those times when you are not getting support hours, not instead of! It is recognised that formal support hours are crucial: Buddies is here to sit alongside and complement that care provision.
Whilst Buddies has the support and input from other service providers we are an independent charity and have no affiliation to any other organisation.
Case Studies and Outcomes
To give you a better insight into what we do and achieve here at Buddies below are examples of case studies and outcomes achieved by the members (names have been changed):
• Rod has been taught his alphabet (lower and upper case) and can identify all of his letters without prompt. He is familiar with the computer’s Qwerty keyboard and can access the internet for names of songs by his favourite band. He is 47 and had limited understanding of these skills before becoming a member. He has also learned that leaves fall off most trees in autumn!!
• Regan has learned that she does not need chocolate cake and chocolate at the same time as one has the other in it! Too much is not good for you – huge milestone. She had previously believed that, because she is an adult, she can do and eat as she wants. She still can but now has information about some food groups so she can make a balanced decision about what she eats and is learning responsibility towards others.
• James now has the confidence to do daily word search and arrow search puzzles and ask other people’s opinions if he is struggling for answers. He has learned to use the dictionary to research word meanings: his vocabulary and use of it has improved remarkably.
• Groups of members get together to make lunch. They ask each other for their preferences and then calculate the menu based on the ‘list’: this list is an account of each member’s two pieces of food that they won’t eat. They then make a list of ingredients, shop and then cook. Members then sit together to eat (even if they have brought their own) and share stories. This achieves multiple outcomes from healthy eating to literacy/numeracy and social interaction.
• Jen has learned to tie her laces and is trying to show Jayne how to do hers. John can now fasten his shirt and match the buttons correctly for each wear!
• Nadine could only tell the time digitally but has learned the clock face and can tell us all what time it is. She is also up to her 7x table.
• Four of the boys who group together often do different activities but shout and joke with each other from their different places around the club.
• Great mornings are had when the Never Ending Story comes out. Members sit around the table or just pass by and pick a card to contribute to the story.
• Ben pops in most days when not having a session to tell us what he is doing and see if we are OK.
• One pensioner who comes in from out of town started by coming in with a support worker. This cost, including the cost of her session, the equivalent of 5 hours of her budget. She is now able to access the bus and come to and return from Buddies unassisted thus saving those hours of support for care required at home and extending her social time.