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Friends and Places Together

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Friends and Places Together are a Community Interest Company based in Southend and we are in the process of registering as a Charity.

We offer a unique range of supports through Friends and Places and Breaks with Mates.  Each of these 2 initiatives are aimed at enabling young people with a disability to develop and maintain social connections to enable them to develop friendships, interests and new experiences and lead ordinary lives.

We also offer other young people in the community valuable volunteering opportunities that will make a real difference to the lives of their more vulnerable peers, as well as adding to their own social lives.

Friends and Places offers young adults from13 to 18 years old, an opportunity to meet up with friends outside of the school environment. Friends and Places will soon be available in Barking and Dagenham as well as in Southend.

Breaks with Mates offers young people from 16 to 25 years the chance for friends to meet up in group activities outside of school or college. A range of activities are offered every month as well as different activities on a more one off basis, all which are based on the feedback from young adults we work with.

Our work with people aged under 18 is funded by the Southend Borough Council Short Breaks Service so that anyone under 18 will only need to pay for the cost of activities and not transport or staffing. People who are over 18, or who live outside of the Southend area can use their direct payments or own funds to pay for the cost of staffing when out and about.

We support anyone who has a disability that involves sensory, learning disabilities, communication difficulties, physical impairments as well as people with complex health needs and people with Autism and Asperger’s.

Our work has many different positive aspects as it:

  • Develops a wide range of everyday opportunity in the community to enable young people to live ordinary lives and to develop interest and new experiences
  •  Supports families to have a break away from their caring role away from their families
  • Provides support for families to develop links with other families by meeting  up with their son or daughter’s friends and parents
  • Supports families through the changes from leaving school to the next steps into adulthood and to encourage families to build friendships with other parents
  • Supports families to recruit staff and to share the cost with other families for activities with their friends
  • Supports friendships especially in the last year of school and college to help people keep their friendships
  • Supports young people under 25 who volunteer to support friendships out in the community and to be part of the young person’s life

Our work also changes lives

  • For the majority of young people that we work with it’s the first time that they go out without their families on a night out with their friend.
  • One lady had never been away from her family and had never invited a friend round to her house. This has now changed by our involvement.
  • One person is now a volunteer for another younger person to help them go out with their friends from school.
  • One person has now used his links with friends and places to set up his own gardening business.
  • More families know each other and have been round to each other’s houses.
  • More families feel that their son on and daughter now have a life of their own away from the family.

We are run by young people for young people.  Our staff and volunteers are under 30 years old. We listen to what young people want and we respond quickly to what is being asked. We are flexible and creative in our approach and we all live in Southend so understand what is going on in the community.

Keywords: social activities, socialising, friendships, young people, disability, learning disability

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