Sussex Buddy Scheme

 

The Sussex Buddy Scheme

The Buddy Scheme is open to people with Spina Bifida and/or Hydrocephalus. It enables people who find it difficult to get out and about to take advantage of what is going on locally in the company of a volunteer buddy. Some may wish for help with special needs, others may simply wish for a ‘friend’ who can help them access community life.

The scheme is a simple one. The local Buddy Scheme Co-ordinator meets and talks with people interested in joining the Scheme. They will discuss their interests, the time they have available and generally how the Scheme works.

The Buddy Co-ordinator will initially explain in detail to the volunteer buddy the nature of the conditions supported, and any special needs, so that there is a good understanding of what’s involved. Volunteer training is important because of the need to fully understand the nature of the conditions supported.

The Co-ordinator then matches people together on an individual basis and arranges an initial meeting for the two potential buddies. If both are happy, then a follow up session is arranged. There is a simple written agreement, outlining the roles so that everybody is clear about what to expect. It is up to the Buddy pair to decide what community and other activities they will be involved with. These could include social events, or simply the opportunity to undertake routine activities such as shopping, banking, and visits to the doctor. The Scheme Co-ordinator keeps in touch and offers ongoing support to buddies.

There is no expected length of a partnership, and some have been existing for many years, while others fill a need over a few months. As a result numbers of individual partnerships vary as changes in circumstances occur. Although simple, this scheme is among the most valuable of the services we offer, especially for service users who may have difficulty with relating to other people through their disability. As a major independent report, supported by the Government (“Transforming Lives: The Positive Impact of Mentoring and Befriending”), concludes:

It is not only possible for one human being to make a real and lasting difference to another, it is often the only thing that ever does.”

We welcome all potential volunteer ‘buddies’, as well as wishing to hear from all people with the conditions in Sussex who may wish to have the help and friendship of a buddy.

To contact the Buddy Scheme Co-ordinators, telephone the SASBAH Office on 01825 873045, or email (for West Sussex and Brighton) lisa@sasbah.org.uk, and (for East Sussex) rom@sasbah.org.uk

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