Here at Equal Futures we are aiming to reduce social isolation and loneliness for people who have a learning disability or autism. To do this we rely on the kindness of people who have a few hours in their week that they can share with someone.
Why is volunteering important? In an age where resources are being withdrawn and financial aid is slipping through our fingers people are craving for the return of their community and the spirit that was once felt within in it. I would like to remove the ‘label’ volunteer and replace it with ‘giving time’, a gift that is within us all and one that is returned to the person who offers it.
The people who give time for us do it for many reasons, because they are lonely themselves, because they want to gain employability skills, because they received kindness and want to give back or just because there is a person in their town who needs them.
Lia is one of the people we work with in Edinburgh who is in successful employment and university studies, she has high functioning autism and mobility issues. Because Lia is ‘high functioning’ people often overlook the challenges she faces in socialising and going to places independently. Her facilitator, Shao Wei enables Lia to have a much greater freedom by giving her time. They now attend a weekly discussion group in Leith which they both enjoy (as seen in the photo), this also gives Lia’s unpaid carer some respite.