Ben’s Story and Friday Club

Friday club gives 18-25 year olds who have a learning disability the opportunity to take part in activities in a supportive, friendly environment. We caught up with one mum and her son who have accessed our clubs for 10 years (and counting!)

“Without Leeds Mencap I really feel that we would have struggled” – this is the thought that single parent Allison ends with as she finishes telling me about her and her son’s journey with Leeds Mencap’s youth clubs. As this year marks a decade of this journey, we asked Allison to re-cap her experiences with us…

Allison’s son, Ben, has autism and finds it very difficult to  communicate and form relationships with other people. “His communication is a big obstacle,” she says “and so he often doesn’t make the effort to communicate, but when he goes to Friday club he does interact and try.(…) He really comes out of himself and is more sociable, which is amazing!”.

“When Ben was nine, someone mentioned Leeds Mencap to me, and that’s when I got in touch. I was just interested to see what was on offer, and soon after, he joined the Tuesday youth club”. Since then, Ben has accessed a variety of our services including Thursday and Friday Club, summer play schemes and family fun days that his younger siblings also went along to.

“Ben hasn’t ever really been able to go to other clubs”, Allison reflects, thinking back to an early endeavour with a Beavers group, “because there hasn’t been anybody to support him, so the clubs at Leeds Mencap are his only way of socialising and being part of a group. It’s a really important thing for him”.

“The trips that we run in Friday Club allow young people to try new things and develop their independence” says our Activities Coordinator, Gemma, “Ben is a very well-liked member of the club (…) he always seems to give everything a go!”.

Using our services hasn’t only helped Ben though, “It’s given me a social circle as well as him – it’s benefitted all of us!” Alison muses, “and when he’s been at the clubs, I’ve had time to do things for myself. But also because he has three siblings I’ve been able to spend quality time with them too”.

To find out more about the clubs we offer call us on 0113 235 1331. To keep updated and be the first to see when we announce events or activities follow us on Facebook and Twitter @LeedsMencap

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