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Building friendships

  • By Abi Hart
  • 13th November 2020

It’s been a real pleasure filming our recent videos for the Imagine if campaign and we hope that you enjoyed the latest one ‘Nothing like you Imagine’. Our Friday club members were absolutely brilliant and it was great to see Ella, Emily and Tom talk about what they like to do and lovely to see their friendship.

For children, parents and carers Leeds Mencap offer the opportunity to build friendships. We know that as well as helping children and young people with learning disability develop their communication skills and build confidence, we can offer lots of ways to socialise with their peers and make great friendships.

During Covid we have had to adapt how we bring children and young people and their families together. But what we do know is how much families value the opportunities for their children to get together whatever age they are.

Becky, Mum of Hannah describes Leeds Mencap as a safe and supportive place for Hannah to come and play with other children and make friends. She says “For Hannah having the chance to meet with other children and being able to socialise. She doesn’t have any brothers or sisters yet, so being able to do that in an environment that is safe for her, where the staff know how to look after her well and how to help her develop more, but to do that with other children, to be able to watch other children playing and eating and to learn from them as well has been really good for her.

Paul, explains the difference it means for his son Joe to come to Leeds Mencap “When you have a child with a disability, you can often be in a situation where your child doesn’t have a lot of friends or a very wide friendship group, especially out of school. I think it is really important that he can come to clubs like this to make new friends. It’s really key in that respect.

Joe has got a sister and she does all sorts of activities and we are very conscious that it can be a bit of a one way street, that Joe doesn’t get much of a look in, so I think it is really important that he has other activities that he does as well, so we try and foster those where we can.

We just see how much pleasure he gets out of coming to Leeds Mencap, it’s just really nice that he can access to these activities as well.

He continues “Leeds Mencap is a fantastic organisation, always so positive and doing lots of creative and different activities for the young people. Joe really has a spring in his step when he comes here during the holidays or after school during term time.

They did a Zoom session for them during lockdown in the early part of the summer, he really got a lot out of that. I wasn’t sure whether he would, but he absolutely loved it, it was really nice to see and we all appreciated the effort and the time that they had put into working with the young people.

Sometimes there aren’t a lot of opportunities for young people with disabilities, so anything that there is out there for young people, and Leeds Mencap does offer that tailor service for people with learning disabilities, is really important. We want to develop young people and to help them grow as individuals, and this is a fantastic way of allowing that to happen.”

We do recognise the importance of friendships for children and young people with learning disabilities and we will continue to adapt our services over the next few weeks for our young people

Cath Lee, Chief Executive Officer

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