05 Feb 2024

Befriending participants complete course to boost skills

Befriending participants complete course to boost skills 2400 x 1280

Members of our befriending scheme in Braintree and Chelmsford have successfully completed an internationally acclaimed course, developing essential life skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Bfriends, which was launched by disability charity Hamelin Trust in October 2022, supports adults in Braintree and Chelmsford who identify as having a learning disability or autism. Volunteers support participants to learn new skills, tackle loneliness and isolation, build confidence with independent living, and make new friends.

Bfriends worked with the Centre for International Learning and Leadership (CILL), which delivers the Taqaddam programme in partnership with the British Council, to deliver training to both volunteers and participants.

Taqaddam, Arabic for ‘moving forward’, was delivered across eight sessions, and covered areas such as learning skills for life and work, developing communication skills and helping participants to build their confidence and self-belief.

One participant said the programme had helped her to plan for the future.

She said: “The Taqaddam project has really helped me see things differently. It’s helped me understand how to break things down into smaller tasks rather than try to do everything all at once. I’ve now managed to plan what I want to do in the future and what I need to do to achieve this.”

This is the first time CILL has worked with people with learning disabilities and autism on the Taqaddam programme. Andrew Hadley, CILL Director, said the success of the programme with Bfriends shows the ‘massive potential’ of supporting more people with additional needs.

He said: “The Taqaddam programme was originally developed in the Middle East before being introduced in the UK and it’s been really interesting to see how relevant it has been. The wonderful thing about Taqaddam is that it’s not culturally specific, so the opportunity is massive to expand the reach to more people. 

“The people we have met through Bfriends have the same wishes and aspirations as others we have worked with. They want to get jobs, they want to meet new people, and they want to get involved with their local communities, which is why it’s been joy to work with them and develop their skills.”

Cat Gilbey, Bfriends Project Assistant said the course had made a ‘noticeable difference’.

She said: “I’m so proud to see how our people have developed in such a short space of time. At the start, some lacked the confidence to get involved, but by the end, they were all sharing their ideas and some were even helping to deliver some of the modules.

“The core skills people have developed through the Taqaddam programme will really help them achieve their goals and explore opportunities available to them.”

Find out more about Bfriends at www.hamelintrust.org.uk/bfriends 

Find out more about the Centre for International Learning and Leadership at www.cill-uk.com