Befriending project turns to TV

Befriending project turns to TV

volunteer with young person holding up artwork

Working together at Eddie's before lockdown

A face-to-face befriending scheme for young people with learning disabilities funded by The Evelyn Trust took a creative line in response to the pandemic lockdowns.

In late 2019 the project - which is run by charity Eddie’s - was agreed, but no one could guess that face-to-face services would prove impossible for much of 2020. The scheme started with enthusiastic engagement from young people with disabilities and young volunteers recruited through secondary schools in Wisbech and Ely. This was part of an exciting expansion of Eddie’s services into East Cambridgeshire. Some one-to-one befriending was launched, complemented by local Befriending Works group sessions which explored friendships, dreams and other topics. A successful coffee morning was also launched in Fenland but had to be put on hold.

“All the great work our volunteers were starting to do was helping young people to build self-confidence, develop life skills and improve well being. When the pandemic hit, we started to think creatively about how we could still continue befriending and skills development in meaningful ways. That was when we started to look into the potential of Zoom calls, which has developed over the months into what we call Eddie’s TV. We now run sessions seven days a week, starting every morning with fun ‘keep fit’ sessions and later in the day offering art and craft activities, cooking, dance, drama, quizzes or ‘sing and sign’. We’ve also offered short courses in Makaton signing and calligraphy. To continue vital one-to-one befriending, individual volunteers have also used weekly video calls, letters and the phone,” explains Mark Briggs, Service Manager for Eddie’s, which is the operating division of The Edmund Trust.

“I've been able to meet new people and create new friendships that I would never have been able to achieve otherwise. The sessions are great (something for everyone) and the hosts enthusiastic and friendly.” Quote from a project participant

“Eddie’s TV has evaluated extremely well and we’ve had lovely compliments from young people and their families. We have been able to reach many more young people from Cambridgeshire and beyond using the Zoom sessions and we believe demand will continue. We’re examining the possibilities of a subscription service and applying for grant funding to secure the future of Eddie’s TV as an additional offer to our invaluable face-to-face services.”

The Edmund Trust and its operating division Eddie’s provide a range of support and care services to both children and adults with learning disabilities. You can find out more at and

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