My Mates is a new friendship scheme that has been set up to help people with disabilities establish new friendships and maybe even closer relationships. The scheme was developed to meet demand from people who utilise the My Day My Life service.

The My Mates scheme helps develop friendships, wider networks and supports people to have close personal relationships. The friendship scheme has many benefits in enabling people who sometimes feel isolated to live a more fulfilled life.

To become a member of My Mates there is no joining fee but those who sign up are made aware that they will have to self-fund meals, transport, and entrance fees when they attend planned events. Budgeting is an important skill to acquire and by managing their money – with the help of the team this scheme aids independent living.

Social interaction is a key element of the group and there are many ways for the members to talk to their friends; from attending the various events and activities, at social gatherings or the Facebook group that is used to provide a safe way to chat provide and support.

The scheme is supported by a small team of Monmouthshire County Council staff; Kemmine Compere, Janet Cox and Sarah Seabourne who listen to what the members of My Mates would like to do to build new and expand existing friendships.  The team act on the information from members and coordinate activities and events that the members have asked to be involved in. Initially the scheme will be available within Monmouthshire however will soon expand into the wider Gwent area.

The most recent event was the Christmas Glitter Ball at the Celtic Manor, Thursday December 15th. Members had a fantastic time socialising, fine dining and dancing. It was a brilliant opportunity for members to put on their sparkles and suits and have fun!

The members had an amazing time and just proved how My Mates has made a difference to their lives. Jess Powell a member of the My Mates group said ‘A Great night! I enjoyed time with my mates’ while Stephen Jones said ‘The Ball was amazing! I danced with my friends all evening. I was so happy!’

Andrew Price added ‘What a thoroughly enjoyable night, great company, great food and a fantastic band! The atmosphere was amazing, I met people I didn’t know before.’

Some members are supported by their own personal support workers, Alyson Ryan, supported some of the members to attend the event said:

‘Outstanding, Wonderful and Magical is the best way to describe the evening. Credit where it’s due, in all the years I’ve supported people this is the first time I’ve supported people to an event like this. This is the future, this is how it should be done!’

Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health said:

‘The My Mates initiate is growing from strength to strength, it is so important that everyone has the opportunity to make new friendships and relationships. The team provide unique support whist still enabling the members to become more and more independent. This is yet another example of how people who need help and support are living fulfilled and independent lives.’

To find out more contact The My Mates Team 01873 735414