Everyone’s a winner
Kindness Buddies brings together disabled people in East Renfrewshire to learn new skills, be involved in their community – and tackle loneliness at the same time.
Members of the Buddies team visit older people in the community to pick up their shopping lists, then go to the supermarket, before returning to unpack everything and put it away. A support worker accompanies each pair of Buddies to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Along the way new relationships are formed, barriers are broken down and a very practical support need is met.
The service started with three Buddies and two customers, but now supports around 30 customers over a 5-day week. Other areas are getting their own teams up and running.
The Buddies get to know many customers individually and are ideally placed to spot any needs that might arise. Time for a chat is part of the service, and for some older people this is a highlight of their day. Meanwhile local supermarkets are increasingly aware of the project, and the teams are easy to identify by the Kindness Buddies logo on their trollies and bags.
For customers, the benefits are obvious. For the Buddies, learning the skills involved and providing a service others rely on is a huge boost to confidence and self esteem.
Definitely a win-win!
Thank you to Kindness Buddies for the photos
I can’t see my young person in a job. What else is there?
First, don’t reject the idea completely. A lot can change – what you see at age 16 may not be what someone will be capable of at 25. Finding activities that develop their skills, interests and abilities can be steps on a journey that could lead into work further down the line.
Activities don’t have to be paid to be meaningful. Volunteering opportunities can start from as little as half an hour at a time and still give someone the chance to learn useful skills and meet a range of people.
The most important thing is that young people don’t become isolated, and have the chance to keep on growing and developing.
Can my young person go to college or daycare outside the area we live in?
Yes – they can apply anywhere they want.
What can be difficult is arranging or paying for things like transport or a support worker to get them there. If that isn’t an issue, or if you’ve agreed funding to pay for this, it’s very flexible.
Top tips – getting a job
Look for ways to build your young person’s confidence and experience. Start small and build up gradually.
Contact companies or organisations directly and ask if your young person can visit or shadow someone.
Have ideas for how to manage difficulties in the workplace.
Be prepared to go with them or provide support with transport.
Prepare your young person as much as you can. The biggest challenges might be things like what to do during breaks, or how to let someone know if they need help.
Top tips – planning
- Always keep the bigger picture in mind. Planning is about far more than just finding a college place.
- Ask about a transition plan. If there isn’t one, start your own.
- Start preparing your young person early by talking about different things people do when they leave school.
- Talk to your young person about their likes and dislikes. Try and get a feel for what’s likely to be important to them in their lives.
- Keep it calm. Try not to get stressed, or pass on stress to your young person.
Top tips – learning opportunities
A lot can change in 5 or 6 years. If someone can’t do something now, that doesn’t mean they never will.
Don’t be rushed. Taking time to make good choices and get the right support pays off in the long run.
Don’t rule anything out. Instead, see if it could be possible given time and good support.
It can take a long time to sort out things like accommodation and transport. Be prepared.
Be proactive. Contact learning support services, ask questions and explore options.
Remember independent living and social skills. These are at least as important as academic ability for success.
“Incapacity” and what it means
Many people are uncomfortable with the word “incapacity”, but this is the legal term used to indicate someone can’t make decisions for themselves or take action on their own behalf.
Under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, the Sheriff has to be satisfied that is the case before appointing a guardian or guardians.
The Act works on the basis that the law should intervene to the least extent needed to safeguard someone. That means someone may have capacity according to the legal definition, even if they need support to manage their affairs or communicate decisions. If the Sheriff believes they have capacity, guardianship will not be granted.
Under the Act, someone is “incapable” if they:
- can’t take action for themselves, or
- can’t make, communicate, understand or remember decisions,
because of mental disorder, or of inability to communicate because of physical disability.
Top tips – legal
Seek advice from a solicitor, if possible with specialist knowledge of disabilities and additional support needs. Govan Law Centre [link], Clan Childlaw [link] or the Scottish Child Law Centre [link] may help find one near you, or visit the Law Society of Scotland website [link} and search for an Accredited specialist in the field of Incapacity and Mental Disability.
Some solicitors offer a first meeting free to work out what’s best for you. Ask about this.
Ask what the costs will be. Fees vary – shop around.
Ask questions if you don’t understand something. More than once if you need to! A good solicitor won’t mind – they will want you to get it right.
Check you’re up to date with any benefit changes.
Speak to a specialist benefit adviser to check you’re making the best choices for you – every family is different.
Get guardianship or Power of Attorney in place for financial powers.
Be your young person’s appointee. Speak to the DWP for details.
If you run into financial problems, get help quickly. Don’t let things get out of hand.