Social buddy stories

Jooeun's story

Jooeun joined Share in June 2021 as a social buddy on Go Anywhere, Do Anything, our social inclusion project supporting people on trips out all over London and beyond. She also volunteered on our My Community and Me project that helps people gain more independence and understand how to manage money and travel on public transport.

Jooeun is a student keen to give back to her community during her free time. She has in fact recently submitted her final piece of coursework, congratulations Jooeun, we’re excited for your next chapter!

For Jooeun, volunteering, ‘is a time when I can do something without any asks! It is a pleasure to volunteer and it’s a time in my life that is special to me.’

Go Anywhere, Do Anything is our exciting social inclusion project that helps people to have fun and enjoy life. We want people to have big dreams about adventure and try new things, from rollercoasters to rollerdiscos. So we find out what makes people happy, and then make it happen. As a social buddy, Jooeun has supported three trips including our first ‘hangout’, a new initiative where we host 'get togethers' with fun activities at our Battersea site, and has given Share 68 hours of her time!

‘My favourite part about volunteering at Share is meeting new people, I learn so much from them, sharing experiences and insights.’

Student Claire and Volunteer Jooeun playing Wii at our first Go Anwwhere Do Anything hangout.

The power of volunteering is unquantifiable to Share. Without our amazing volunteers, projects like Go Anywhere Do Anything wouldn't function. We rely on volunteers like Jooeun, who are willing to give up their free time to support our students to live more independently, and do the things they want to do in their spare time.

There are many benefits of volunteering, giving people purpose, improving wellbeing, and helping people gain valuable practical and soft skills.

Jooeun told us she’s learnt a lot about communication and how to adapt when working with adults with learning disabilities. ‘I have learnt so much about communication skills…like considering the other person more and communicating more genuinely.’

Volunteers also learn a great deal from our students, and develop a greater understanding of some of the barriers people with learning disabilities face.

‘Students are like my new friends, they teach me Makaton or they share news that I didn’t know’.

There are so many ways to get involved at Share, as long as you’re keen to get stuck in, have a couple of hours a month available, and you want to support adults with learning disabilities develop their skills, there’s a role for you.

Sayma's story

Sayma wanted to do something positive in her free time so joined Share as a social buddy on Go Anywhere, Do Anything, our social inclusion project supporting people on trips out all over London and beyond.

We spoke to Sayma about what volunteering means to her.

She said, ‘I like volunteering because it's really rewarding. Especially since I started during Covid times, I knew what I was doing was something meaningful.

'My favourite thing about volunteering is how many people you can meet and talk to. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming which makes the volunteering really comfortable for quite a quiet person like me.

'I think what I like most is just getting to know the students, everyone has a different personality and that's what makes every trip so new and exciting.

'I think one of the things that I appreciate is the amount of training you can get at Share e.g. safeguarding and Makaton. They are really helpful and not only do you get to learn it in theory, you also put it into good practice while volunteering.'

Sayma with students and other social buddies on a trip to see The Lion King

We take great pride in making sure volunteers get the best experience with us. One of the ways we do this is by providing high-quality training, which is relevant, accessible, and responsive to the needs of our volunteers.

Catherine, volunteer social buddy

Catherine started volunteering with Share in April 2019 as a social buddy for  Go Anywhere, Do Anything. Catherine helps to make our members’ chosen trips a reality,  sharing her personal passions while helping others to experience everything London has to offer. As part of the buddyship project, she helps plan and attends one-to-one trips with our members. This was sadly cut short when the pandemic halted the project. Instead, we started running online experiences including dance classes, quizzes, craft sessions, and online watch parties (Friends, Glastonbury, football matches and movies), all on Zoom.

Understandably during this time, a lot of our social buddies had to pause their volunteering with the project, however Catherine was part of a handful of hugely dedicated social buddies who offered to run some amazing online trips for us! In total, social buddies led 14 trips including our very popular dance classes organised and run by Catherine.

She’s been a standout volunteer for us making regular appearances throughout the year. She even ran a virtual Christmas dance class for members and staff. Recently, we ran our first face-to-face trip since November. We hosted a picnic at Clapham Common and Catherine ran a brilliant dance class on the day – check her out in action below!

Catherine says, ‘I love volunteering at Share because it’s such fun to spend time with friends, take part in fun activities, and know you’ve helped someone have a good day! All the members at Share have different interests, and it’s really great trying the new things they want to do, like archery or cricket, or simply spending time together at a restaurant or doing a dance class! It’s a lovely feeling to know you’ve helped someone achieve their personal goals, or just have a fun day out.’

Find out more about being a social buddy.