Growing Home from Home scheme seeks new friends

Over 40 adults and children in Merton with learning disabilities are currently seeking volunteer friends through the borough’s growing Home from Home (HfH) scheme.

Merton has been running the scheme since 1978. It aims to link volunteers with people who have learning disabilities, for whom something as simple as friendship can be a rare luxury.

Tony Tutt, the scheme’s organiser, said:

“Although Home from Home has been a considerable success, we are keen to extend the scheme to meet the needs of the 40 people currently on the waiting list.

“To coincide with Share the Care week, from 22nd to 28th September 2003, we are seeking new volunteers to enable us to extend it. Volunteers simply allow those with learning disabilities to enjoy leisure and family activities – like day trips, visits to the cinema and shopping – which the rest of us take for granted.

“Many of the friendships started in 1978 are still going strong. The only obligation is for volunteers to commit to a friendship with someone with a learning disability.”

Volunteers Kevin and Lee Gillom befriended Owen, a 28 year-old diabetic who also had Downs Syndrome, and they show how the scheme can create long-term friendships. Kevin said: “Owen is now a family friend, and there are many more people in Merton with learning disabilities who could benefit from the Home from Home scheme if more volunteers came forward.”