Hi readers

You know the reason we got to write this column? It’s thanks to the Friendship Club!

The Friendship Club is a member led club offering social activities for people with learning disabilities. It’s where we both met. It enables us, and many others, to take part in everyday activities. Things many people take for granted - like meeting friends in the pub, ten pin bowling, discos or quizzes.

Activities we would find very difficult to do, if not impossible, without support. We find it very hard to make and keep friends without help, and as there’s still so much stigma around learning disabilities, it can still make many of us feel unaccepted by society.

The Friendship Club has changed all that. When we joined, not only did we feel immediately welcome, we got a whole new family - friends. The Club meets regularly and members choose activities, including where we meet. Now some of us help run events!

It’s totally changed our lives. Before, neither of us had any social life. We’d both experienced hate crime, felt isolated and depressed, and were almost totally dependent on family and professionals for our friendships.

Now, we’ve made lots of friends, have much more confidence, are miles better at speaking up and feel safe going out. We’ve also gained many new skills – like using public transport to get to events. So, a normal life.

We also feel more accepted by the community, which feels good. Staff and volunteers help run the club, as we’ll always need some level of support.

The Friendship Club, supporting around 400 members each month, is clearly making a huge impact, but totally relies on grants and fundraising to keep going.

Funding is critical right now, so today we appeal to everyone to help us keep our lifeline going. Please help us if you can. You can donate here localgiving.org/charity/peoplefirstdorset/project/friendship-club

Adam and William are supported in their editing by The Friendship Club– a project for adults with learning disabilities, run by People First Dorset.