Buddies work one to one with our members to help people with a learning disability access activities in the community such as courses, volunteering or just having fun. They provide guidance, coaching and mentoring support to help people become more confident and independent. Buddies do not provide personal care to their buddy mentee. Expenses such as travel costs can be provided. No specific qualifications, skills or experience are required though you will need good listening and motivational skills and patience. Training will be provided and a DBS will applied for through Wirral Mencap. Buddy pairs meet with a staff member at Wirral Mencap at regular intervals and staff are available to provide support and advice if needed. Many buddy pairs last for years, others move on to being friends who meet up at Wirral Mencap social events. Some buddies have gone on to become paid members of staff at Wirral Mencap.
ON BEING A MENCAP PHONE BUDDY
I can’t believe it’s almost 18 months, (May 2021), since my phone rang, and Julie asked me if I would like to be a phone buddy to a lady in my neighbourhood. I was happy to accept!
Julie gave me a few basic details about my new Hoylake neighbour, and I made contact!
Immediately, I found it very easy to chat with Lynn; especially as we live so close to each other, and we had things in common! Neither Lynn, nor I, had any previous experience of sharing a ‘Phone Buddy Partnership’ before! I began to call Lynn, weekly; occasionally, it has been ten days, between chats. We chat for about half an hour each time.
I soon needed to be able to put a face to the disembodied voice on the phone! I suggested to Lynn that I might visit her. At first, we sat outside on a bench near her front door. One day I took a doggy visitor round, as I came off the beach, on a pleasant summer day.
I have visited Lynn, say at Easter, or Christmas, or if it’s her birthday… Lynn always makes me a lovely cup of tea, and treats me to her chocolate biccies! So nice to have a cuppa made for you!
Unfortunately, things did change somewhat when Lynn became unable to go outside, owing to health problems. However, that does not interfere with our telephone friendship chats!
We can do those as regularly as before. Between times, we share the occasional text!
Lynn and I are now friends; she knows about my life and family, and often gives me good, strong advice! She is clear thinking!
We are both looking forward to when Lynn is able to go out and about again, when we plan to share a trip to one of Hoylake’s excellent cafes. That will be an important day!
Lynn says ‘It’s nice to have a friend’, ‘We keep in touch’, ‘It’s a lifeline’, ‘It’s good to know that if anything happens, there is someone there; we can text’
As always, volunteering with MENCAP, has brought me much satisfaction, and a sense of improved wellbeing, to both parties. I am glad I was asked! Thank you Lynn! Thank you, MENCAP!