A young voluntary scheme launched with the aim of ending disability loneliness in Cornwall is now calling for more volunteers.

Best Buddies is run by Mencap and helps pair young people with a learning disability with a volunteer, who shares their interests. The charity has revealed that one in three people with a learning disability spend less than an hour a day outside their home on a Saturday, with around one in five feeling isolated and cut off.

Mencap is now calling for young people to volunteer their time to help others in their area get out to do the things they love. The scheme launched in Cornwall in 2017 and now boasts 40 buddy pairs. As well as individual outings, Best Buddies also arranges group nights out and activities, including clubbing, ice skating and camping.

Danni Logan, 22, a Best Buddies user, said: “I wanted to socialise more but I needed some support. Best Buddies has been great and it helped me meet Siggy. Siggy is my friend and we get on really well together.

“Best Buddies has helped make me more confident, I’ve made new friends and I want to go out and do things I haven’t done before. This year I went ice skating with Siggy and to a nightclub; I want to get out and try even more things in 2018.”

Siggy Abraham, 17, a Best Buddies' volunteer, added: "I found out about Best Buddies through my college and it really stuck out to me; you’re volunteering just by spending time with someone and both doing what you love. Danni and I have a lot in common, music, sport and even making jewellery. We’ve become real friends since meeting.

“Being a Best Buddy has taught me not to jump to conclusions about people. The stereotypes I heard about people with a learning disability made it sound like they can’t do anything themselves; but that’s not the case.

“I have so much respect for Danni, she’s out there and she doesn’t care what people think. For a 17-year-old, that’s quite a life lesson. Volunteering with Best Buddies and becoming friends with Danni has opened my eyes to what a happy person can look like.”

Kate Oldroyd, project manager for Mencap, said: “Loneliness is a huge problem for many young people with a learning disability. Cornwall’s Best Buddies scheme not only gives young people with a learning disability to get out and meet people, but it also helps build confidence and gives people new exciting experiences.

“Since starting Best Buddies, we’ve seen our pool of volunteers grow and some really strong friendships flourish. This is very much down to Best Buddies unique set up, which pairs Buddies whose interests match, allowing people to volunteer whilst doing the things they love.”

For more information or to join Best Buddies email Susan.Hodgson@mencap.org.uk.