Buddy Scheme’s Creative Competition
When the UK entered its first lockdown in 2020 volunteers on the Kingston Buddy Scheme had to adapt very quickly to support their buddies. “Buddy pairs” were used to meeting regularly to enjoy leisure activities together but with everyone having to stay at home volunteers started phoning their buddies or using social media to keep in touch.
Initial conversations were about how everyone was coping but then became about what people were doing to fill their time. Over the following 12 months, service users and volunteers took up new hobbies or returned to old ones, tried cooking new dishes and tackled DIY jobs around the home. Some people already had skills and experience but others were trying things for the first time.
A creative competition was suggested at a volunteers’ meeting to show what everyone had been doing and the results have been amazing. There were lots of baking entries, a DIY project and very skilful craft projects. The winner of the competition had submitted 5 different items including an apron, a cushion and a face mask which amazed the judges. See images below.
All the service users on the Buddy Scheme have either a learning disability or are on the autistic spectrum. Some were already isolated before the pandemic so the support of a volunteer has been so important to provide social contact, help with motivation and encourage them to try new activities. The scheme has 16 buddy pairs and a waiting list of service users wanting a buddy so is keen to start matching new buddy pairs as soon as restrictions ease.