The ‘Can Do’ Buddies

The Central Cheshire Buddy Scheme are a charity which supports children and young people with disabilities. The team believe everyone can achieve anything and ‘can do’ anything.

CCBS run seven activity groups each month including three for children with very complex one-to-one needs, a youth club, Saturday club, a siblings’ group, and a programme of trips far and wide including a new Beach Buddies initiative.  ‘Can do’ probably doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Established in 2004, CCBS supports children, young people and adults with disabilities and their families, through this wide range of activity clubs and residential breaks.

Each month the charity works with 95 children with a range of disabilities, 22 siblings, 27 adults via their Changing Lives project, and 50 carers.

“We will go anywhere and everywhere,” says Stephanie Lawley, one of the key drivers of the charity along with Louise Bailey.

“We also run what we call the Crewe All Rounders group, where we go out and about in our Smiley bus.

“Last week we were in the Isle of Man for four days, then we’ve been crab fishing in New Brighton, this week it is Chill Factor E, and Tittesworth reservoir.  We go wherever we can.

“Our main focus is about being active and not just being at based one centre.

“We love to do things outdoors, showing children and adults new places, while having fun with friends.

“It is about getting out there, giving the children and adults new opportunities, new challenges, new experiences.

“We have a very ‘can do’ and positive attitude. Including we can clear a playground in 10 minutes!

“We believe anyone can do anything, it is about having the ability and not the disability, and just having a go at it.

“And the funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation and the minibus have really helped us be able to support children young people, adults and carers.

“We have recently received some funding for a new project over the summer, called the Beach Buddies.

“We will pick the children up from Springfield School in Crewe with whom we have close links, and take them to a number of different beach including  Crosby, New Brighton, Talacre and Prestatyn.

“We will just go to the beach for a couple of hours, have a play and some fun, a picnic, and then take everyone home when hopefully they are all worn out!”

The CCBS has been particularly indebted to the Steve Morgan Foundation for providing that Smiley Bus back in 2015, which is such a major help in travelling here, there and everywhere for all these activities!

“The minibus has been fantastic and we are so proud of it,” says Stephanie.

“Before we had it we were borrowing other people’s minibuses and had a great relationship with a local special school but during one month, we clocked up 1,000 miles and started thinking we were being a little bit cheeky and needed our own bus!

“Now, with the Steve Morgan bus, we have so much more flexibility and it gives us that added element where we can just decide – ‘where do we want to go’?”

That wasn’t the end of the Foundation’s support and, in 2017, a further grant was awarded to the tune of over £27,000 per year for three years to help with senior management salaries.

This, as Stephanie explains, has also had a hugely positive impact on the charity. “The latest funding pays for management time so we can make sure everything is all done properly with staff contracts, policies, including changes in the regulations, such as GDPR,” she says.

“It has given us the capacity to plan and be ready, and also time to put in funding bids, which can take a lot of hours and organisation.

“For example, we have recently put one in with Children in Need which we are waiting to hear back on.

“Louise works really closely with the families, and we have a couple of families that are really struggling.

“We can work with social care and social services to help, and then sit with people and spend time with them, helping them to fill in forms, have a chat or take them to appointments”.

“We have one family who have four disabled children and the house can be really chaotic so we can support Mum, sit and have a cup of coffee with her, and help her work things out.”

So many different activities, for people of so many different ages, but perhaps one story sums up just how important CCBS can be to the many people whose lives it touches.

“Our Siblings club is really important,” says Stephanie.

“For those children who have a disabled sibling, and are maybe aged just nine, ten, 11,or  12, it can be difficult to deal with those situations.

“They should be able to be out and about, enjoying themselves.

“We had one trip for the siblings to Cadbury World, and a girl got on the minibus, and said she was so tired, because she had been kept up all night.

“She slept all the way there, then we walked around at Cadbury World, and then she slept all the way back home again.

“But when she got off the bus at the end of the day  she was like a completely different person, ready to face the world again.

“She had been out all day with friends, had had a break and switched off…and was now ready to face the world again.

“If we can make a difference to one child or young person our job is worthwhile.

“We are currently planning a trip for the siblings to the Isle of Man in July for four days.

“We have never taken them away before, it’s a new adventure for them and for us and we are all really excited.”

‘Can do’ attitude? There doesn’t seem to be anything that the Central Cheshire Buddy Scheme can’t do, as they continue to blaze a trail in carrying out such a vital role in and around their local communities.

  • For more information contact Stephanie Lawley on (07873) 423389,check out their website – cheshirebuddies.co.uk – or follow on Facebook @cheshirebuddies

 

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