About Bradford Buddies

Noor and Weza sitting at a table smiling at the camera

Mencap match buddies to a volunteer who shares similar interests so they can go out together as a pair and do activities in their local community like going to some live music, a theatre show, bowling, shopping or the cinema. 

Social get-togethers at Bradford Buddies

As well as matching pairs of buddies and volunteers we also organise regular socials in Bradford like gig nights, coffee mornings, meals out and bowling. Through these group socials you can meet other like-minded people and make new friends.

Watch the video to find out more.

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Volunteering at Bradford Buddies

"Everyone is friendly, professional and reliable. I love hanging out with everyone. It’s been nice to get to know Bradford as I’m not from here originally and learn loads of new skills. I like the fact we’re a small family and if we need any help or support we can get in touch"

- Vicky, a Bradford Buddies volunteer

We’re always looking for new buddies and volunteers

Two men standing up. One is holding an electric guitar and the other has his arm around the guitarists neck

Let us know if you are interested in being part of Bradford Buddies either as a buddy or a volunteer or for additional information, please email our Bradford Buddies coordinator, Andy Warren or telephone him on 07970 962 652 

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Frequently asked questions about Bradford Buddies

Why become a volunteer at Bradford Buddies?

Volunteering in your community is your chance to make a difference locally to the lives of people with a learning disability . With Bradford Buddies you can connect with someone who shares similar interests while supporting them to get out and enjoy a full and varied social life.  

Mencap will provide volunteers with: 

  • the opportunity to go to great events and meet new people. 

  • the opportunity to support someone with a learning disability to live a life like anyone else and make choices about how you spend social time together.  

  • expenses reimbursed up to £10 a month. 

  • Induction training (see more below)  

  • friendly ongoing support, mentoring and guidance from a local coordinator. 

Do Bradford Buddies volunteers get training?

Yes - all Bradford Buddies volunteers go through an induction training programme. 

This generally takes a few hours and covers areas such as: 

  • an introduction to learning disability 

  • communication 

  • safeguarding 

  • 'what to do if' scenarios. 

All volunteers must complete an Enhanced DBS check and we also ask for two references. 

We also recommend that new pairs of buddies come to a social for their first gig together, we're on hand to provide any support too. 

Why become a buddy at Bradford Buddies?

If you become a buddy, you will benefit from: 

  • being supported to try new things 

  • going out in the evening and feeling safe 

  • getting to know new people 

  • making new friends 

Who is Bradford Buddies for?

Bradford Buddies is aimed at people with a mild to moderate learning disability, particularly those who get little or no funded support as there is a risk that this group of people will be most at risk from social isolation. 

We typically aim to engage people aged 18-35. This is because we want to reduce loneliness for the next generation of people with a learning disability and support them to have lasting friendships and connections. 

How are buddies and volunteers paired together?

The Bradford Buddies coordinator meets everyone who gets involved in the scheme (buddies and volunteers) and will conduct an initial interview

This enables them to make an informed decision about who to match with who. 

The buddy and volunteer will then be introduced to each other at a matching meeting led by the coordinator. 


What if the buddy and volunteer pairing doesn’t work out?

It's totally fine if a pairing doesn't work out. 

We believe it is important to ensure that the person with a learning disability is in control of who their buddy is. 

If it doesn't work out we'll offer support to see if there's something we can do to resolve the relationship, but on the rare occasions it doesn't work at all, we'll support you to find a new buddy. 

What kind of activities do buddies and volunteers do together?

Anything at all! 

We encourage people to say what their interest is. That could be playing or watching sport, walking, or going to the theatre.  

Whatever your interest, we'll aim to find a match! 

How much does it cost to be part of Bradford Buddies?

The support provided by our Bradford Buddies service is free, funded by Bradford Metropolitan District Council . However, we expect participants to pay for tickets to events and other activities, and travel costs. 

We do reimburse volunteer expenses - up to £10 a month. 

What is the Bradford Buddies scheme and how does Mencap’s Bradford Buddies service fit within it?

Mencap’s Bradford Buddies service is part of a wider Bradford Buddies scheme funded by the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Age UK deliver a similar service to older residents living in Bradford as part of the scheme.

Find out more information about the Bradford Buddy scheme

What is Gig Buddies and Stay Up Late and how do they support Bradford Buddies?

Our Bradford Buddies service benefits from training, peer support and resources from the charity, Stay Up Late who created the Gig Buddies project model on which the service is based.  

The Gig Buddies project began from a campaign in 2006 to fight for the rights of people with learning disabilities to “stay up late” and not be restricted by support worker shifts. 

In 2013 Stay Up Late started Gig Buddies as a practical solution to this, matching volunteers and people with learning disabilities who shared interests around music to go to gigs together.  

Stay Up Late now share the Gig Buddies project model with like-minded organisations around the UK and even in Sydney, Australia. 

The project has evolved over the years and now matches people to be "buddied" for a range of activities, not just gigs and music.  

Our Bradford Buddies service looks to support volunteers and their buddies to access whatever activities and events they are interested in at whichever times suit them best.  

Find out more about Stay Up Late, the Gig Buddies projects and other providers.

What if I don’t live in Bradford?

Mencap currently only has funding to deliver this service in Bradford. 

However, there are other Gig Buddies projects around the UK. Find out more about these other projects.

Bradford District Council logo Bradford Buddies logo Stay up late logo Gig Buddies logo