Suffolk Befriending Scheme, the county-wide charity for young people with learning disabilities has undergone a revolutionary rebrand. The organisation exists to establish and support friendships and leisure opportunities between people with learning disabilities in the community. Having been growing year on year within Suffolk, the management team behind the charity felt that now was the time to take the next step, and become the Befriending Scheme.
Shirley Moore, CEO of Befriending Scheme, explains the change of name, 'We've been growing and growing over the last several years, with our services proving to be extremely valuable to young people with learning disabilities in Suffolk. As time has gone by, we've been asked more frequently if we could supply volunteers to other vulnerable groups in border counties, and now we're in a position to do this.'
The organisation is taking positive action to support vulnerable groups in the region, in light of the cuts in government funding for charitable groups. 'As there are so many changes happening with how charities, and individuals in need of support, receive funding, we felt that now was the best time to re-launch ourselves as the Befriending Scheme,' Shirley explains. The changes to the way in which people receive funding has changed, with individuals now receiving personal budgets for services they require. The Befriending Scheme has also launched a bursary programme, that will be used to provide funding for those who no longer qualify for government funding, so that they can still use the charity's services.
In addition to a new look, name and website, the organisation has also changed the way it will offer its services. The seven 'A Place to Talk' groups across Suffolk, which provide a place to socialise for young adults with learning disabilities, have become Hubs. 'We feel this change will reflect the real sense of community and belonging that exists at each location. The Hubs will offer exciting activity programmes, designed to satisfy a wide audience. We've also invested in a Wii, flat screen television, camera and video camera for each centre,' says Shirley. By re-vamping what each Hub offers, the Befriending Scheme has created dedicated spaces for vulnerable groups to come and socialise with friends they've made through the charity.
For the volunteers, the changes will also bring about new opportunities. As the charity now caters for a wider range of vulnerable groups, volunteers will be able to gain valuable experience working with a range of people, from those with learning disabilities, to the elderly.
'We're very excited about the re-launch, it's a big change for us, our users and the volunteers,' says Shirley. 'Everyone has responded well to our new look, which is exactly what we wanted. I've been involved with this charity for 16 years, and it's a little sad to see the old brand go – but we're moving forward, and are dedicated to providing an excellent service for our users, which is always the most important thing.'
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