I started volunteering at Buddies when I was 15, I looked for organisations to volunteer at as I hoped to study medicine at university and having done some volunteering strengthens your application hugely.
Buddies was the place I chose as I love spending time with children, and the staff allowed and encouraged volunteers to get involved in every aspect of the day, so it was an amazing and hands on experience that I learned so much from. Over my 2 years at Buddies I have been swimming, to the cinema, to Gnoll park, to Techniquest, to bike ability and so many other places with the children. Spending time in the real world with them is a unique, massively rewarding experience that Buddies offers.
I have gained so much from Buddies, firstly it helped me in university interviews as I had lots to talk about. It also taught me so much about responsibility and care for vulnerable people and I now feel equipped to apply this in all aspects of my life, which is an invaluable skill. Working with the same children over the past two years has been incredible, as I have been able to watch them learn and grow over time and it is fantastic to see them develop. All the children at Buddies are different, and learning their specific needs over time has allowed me to build relationships with each and every one of them.
I have so many happy memories with all the children, one of my favourites was when a younger boy with limited verbal communication skills first said my name. It was amazing to know that he understood who I was and had learned my name. Volunteering at Buddies is definitely the best thing I ever did and I am so thankful to Local Aid for making it all possible.
I started volunteering with Local Aid in January 2016 in order to gain experience working in a caring environment. My goal was to be a paediatrician so it was really useful to have an insight into helping vulnerable children. From the moment I stepped through the doors, I was met by laughter and all of the children had smiles on their faces. Everyone seemed to enjoy their time there and I knew instantly that all the staff understood the children perfectly and knew the best way to communicate with these children, despite the children having Autism.
I was later offered a job and started working there, gaining qualifications and experience. The first time I worked there was the Summer Project, which was 2 weeks of activities for the children every day. On one of the days we went to Techniquest in Cardiff and as soon as we walked through the foyer into the room with all of the displays, the boy I was with instantly laughed with glee at everything happening around him and it was so lovely to see him engaging with all the displays and playing with the water experiments. Twenty months later I can happily say that I have loved every shift working with Local Aid and despite it sounded like an awful cliché, everyone there is a massive family and I am devastated to say goodbye in order to head off for University to study Medicine at Exeter.
My 12 year old son Joshua has ASD with learning difficulties. He also has a few other issues and sometimes displays challenging behaviour.
Joshua attends the buddies program. This has made a positive impact on Joshua and also on the whole family. It has meant that while Joshua is at buddies we are able to give our daughter some quality time without the demands that Joshua makes on our attention and time.
Joshua gets to have one to one attention at buddies and although we love him dearly we sometimes struggle to give him as much attention as he demands. Since attending buddies Joshua has made progress in some areas . He will now sit through a film at the cinema which is something he struggled with previously.
The young people who volunteer at Buddies are very good with the children they work with. Joshua seems to get on well with all of them. I know that in the past Joshua did display some challenging behaviour while at Buddies. This was handled by the staff and they have learnt what he likes and what is likely to cause problems with him and take him out of the situation if it starts to upset him.
Buddies do a fantastic service for both the children they work with and the family of the child.
Buddies - for Ellie it has been extremely important. As a teenager with learning disabilities there are limited social opportunities and Buddies give her the chance to explore a range of social experiences.
Ellie enjoys attending because it provides interest and interaction outside of the school and family environments. She feels safe and genuinely looks forward to her 6 week blocks.
For Ellie Buddies gives her something to look forward to that has some structure around it whilst being fun and positive
John really looks forward to and enjoys buddies. He loves the range of activities on offer and the staff.
I would say the best thing about buddies is that it meets the needs of each child. The staff really understand John and care for him. They help him to develop as a person. When I drop him off I know that he is going to have a fun time and be looked after.
As parents we are really grateful for buddies -its great for John and helps us enormously as a family.
We are very proud of our testimonials from both parents and volunteer staff