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For Good

Friends for Leisure

Name: Friends for Leisure
Category: Equality & inclusion
Location: Congleton
Project summary: Do you want to make a real difference with your dissertation?

An exciting opportunity has arisen for enthusiastic, motivated students to get involved in a local research project for Friends for Leisure. We expect students of psychology or sociology to be particularly interested.

Friends for Leisure is a charity that promotes fun and friendship to disabled children and young people in Cheshire East. Our services are based on the premise that disabled children and young people often experience considerable social isolation and loneliness.

We would like students to conduct research to enable us to demonstrate evidence of local need for our services to potential funders.

We are hoping to gain quantitative and qualitative data on:
• What evidence there is that disability in children and young people in Cheshire East leads to greater social isolation, loneliness, lack of social skill development, and unhappiness.
• The inequalities and barriers faced by disabled children and young people in their social lives.
• Any other negative effects that disability has regarding the young person’s social life.
Detailed summary: Friends for Leisure has over 20 years’ experience of offering friendship and leisure opportunities to disabled children and young people aged 5 to 21 years.

With funding of charities being cut and the need for voluntary sector services rising, we need to stand out from others, with strong evidence that Friends for Leisure is needed in Cheshire East. We hope that this evidence will lead to greater success with the funding applications we make.

Our direct contact with families shows that the disabled young people who are referred to FFL and register with us, are leading very isolated lives, for a number of reasons:
• Attending school miles from home, with much travel involved;
• The impossibility of joining in after-school activities because they have to use a taxi to get home;
• Their school friends can live at a considerable distance;
• If attending local schools, they are bullied or ostracised because their peers don’t understand their behaviour, appearance or disability.

Potential funders are telling us that the evidence we have from the families with whom we are in contact is not enough. We need to be able to paint a clear picture of life for the wider population of disabled children within our borough. For some funders, individual cases are of interest – they want to know how particular children are affected by their isolation. Others are not interested in the particular, but want to hear about the numbers of disabled children who are affected by isolation, and the ways in which they are affected. It is through building these pictures that we will be able to demonstrate that the need for our services is there.

We would expect that students who are interested in helping us would have some local knowledge of Cheshire East. With strict protocols around data protection and child safeguarding to be followed, we can offer students the chance to communicate with the families already registered with us. In addition, the challenge for students who are interested in making a big difference to Friends for Leisure, is in finding families with a disabled child, who are not already known to us and who are willing to help with the research.

If you would like to learn more, please get in touch with us.
Number of students partnered with: 1
Current status: Completed