Leisure Buddies Under Lockdown

Would you like to know how you can make a new friend and broaden your horizons during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond? Our Leisure Buddies Service matches carefully screened community volunteers and adult NDIS participants (people with intellectual disability).

Matches are based on shared interests and other criteria. Once matched, the two buddies build their friendship through fortnightly outings together in the community enjoying activities such as walking, movies, bowling, working out, dancing, singing, having a meal together, trips to the city, and attending festivals and exhibitions.

Since March 2020, these outings have been curtailed due to COVID-19 and buddies have embraced technology to keep connected. For some buddies only telephone calls or emails or messages are an option. For others, video calls such as Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and House Party are possible. Whilst these calls cannot replace face-to-face contact in person, they are helping our buddies stay connected and reduce feelings of isolation and rejection, so prevalent at this time.

Phone and video calls are presenting challenges for buddies. They tend to be much shorter than outings and they may feel less personal and limited in the variety of activities.

However many buddies are overcoming these challenges through remaining committed to the friendship and through dedicating time to each other. They are also discussing activity options and are willing to be flexible and try different ideas. Family and staff support are also playing an important role in encouraging and enabling this type of contact.

Our buddies have been very creative in finding ways to virtually share activities such as ballet, karaoke, doing a work-out, singing, Zumba, playing games and planning what they are going to do post lockdown!

You can find out more and apply to become a leisure buddy participant or a volunteer from https://inclusionmelbourne.org.au/get-involved/volunteers/leisure-buddies/

Quote from Harvey's mum: “Harvey has really enjoyed maintaining the meet-ups with Adam on zoom. They’ve been chatting with each other and as both the boys are into fitness they’ve been streaming zumba classes together as well as having done some gym together. Technology has been a life saver!”