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For children and young people with disabilities and/or additional needs

Community Buddies in the news

Here is an excerpt from a previous news story about community buddies "Best Buddies" (October 2011)

“It’s excellent”, said Denise Long. “William can taste life as it should be, going out pursuing his interests and mixing with other people who share those interests just like any other young person.”

Denise from New Milton is talking about her son William, 18, who has Asperger’s and finds making friends and mixing with new people very daunting. So much so that if it wasn’t for his ‘Buddy’, Rich he probably wouldn’t go out.

Under the Community Buddy scheme children and young people are matched with a trained person who can provide one-to-one support to access any activity of their choice. The service is available for 7-19 year olds and it means they can do anything from kicking a ball around in the park and visiting local attractions to going shopping or seeing a movie.

Denise knows at first hand the difference the Community Buddy scheme has made to her son’s life. “William is interested in war games role play activities,” said Denise. “With Rich’s support he goes to a group in Christchurch. It has made such a difference to him. When he comes back he’s happy, he’s spent his time doing something he loves, he gets to mix with other enthusiasts and then afterwards he goes to the pub with Rich. He’s living life just like any other young man his age. It’s really good to see him so happy and getting out.”

It also provides a vital break for Denise and her husband. “It means we all get a break from each other.” Like any teenager William doesn’t want to be with his parents all the time. “This means he can go out and do normal things, said Denise. “It gets him over the first hurdle of going to something new, meeting new people, in time he may be happy to go along by himself. Social situations can be very difficult for young people with Asperger’s. Having a ‘buddy’ gives William the confidence to go along and he loves going to the pub afterwards to talk to Rich.”

Denise said the scheme which William has been benefiting from has been a real bonus as they live in one of the more rural areas of the county where there can be limited access to activities. “It’s really important for William,” she said. “He can be with people his own age and have fun.”