I work on a 1 to 1 programme supporting a Friendship Finder. I am matched with someone with a learning disability and/or Autism to support and help them to build and maintain friendships, and get more involved in activities to enable meeting friends. This is a varied role and can involve things such as looking for social events to attend, setting up an activity group or overcoming a specific barrier, such as improving social communication and perhaps confidence.
There are so many reasons to volunteer! Personally, I volunteer because I have free time whilst at University and I want to spend this time developing my own communication skills, patience and confidence, at the same time as supporting or helping other people. Many people have difficulties with life, in areas that most people take for granted – such as making friends, or paying for a coffee in a café, or making small talk in a queue – it is things such as these which tend to make a difference in our day and yet we don’t tend to have help in learning how to do these things, and not everyone has a family or friends with time to help. Volunteering at Friends Action North East allows you to support someone to gain the skills to help themselves in the future. I would say the experience is invaluable. In addition, I have gained many unexpected transferable skills such as developing better empathy and patience and my confidence has improved. Being a friendship mentor is beneficial to both parties and I highly recommend the programme to others.