Buddies Club Playscheme, now Buddies Clubs and Services was started by a group of parents in northwest Glasgow in October 1994. They started a Sunday afternoon play club for their children who have a disability, most aged five to ten. Because of their disabilities, the children were denied the freedom of any sort of play or peer interaction. Existence for most of them was school and home – social life nil.
Work done in a local church hall by parents, family and friends, was so successful that we moved to larger premises and started an afterschool Club three days a week.
Families were delighted: children’s lives were being enlarged.
With financial support from local government, Buddies began paying a few sessional workers. In summer ’95 we ran a splendidly successful six-week play scheme during the school holidays.
Soon Buddies became a Recognised Scottish Charity and a company limited by guarantee – all run by a board of parents and carers of the children who come to Buddies so eagerly.
Charitable status allowed us to fundraise more widely and the proceeds let us bring in more children, pay more staff and buy more toys and equipment.
Our first great fundraising success was our application to BBC Children in Need who gave a large grant in autumn ’96 spread over three years.
Building on this generous award, Buddies expanded yet again. In summer 2001 Buddies was on the move again – into more spacious premises in Netherton Community Centre, Anniesland, with more facilities to take more children and now young adults. In 2018 we were decanted into the Southbrae Centre.
After school runs five days a week during term time and the original Sunday club always has a wait list. Buddies have holiday clubs that run in conjunction with the Easter, Summer and October holidays, with up to 50 children/young adults a day off on outings and living their own lives together.
There are also two evening groups for young adults in which they can take part in various activities and socialise with their peers. There is also Outreach running every day for all age ranges allowing our young people to participate in activities in the community. Adventure breaks and mini breaks were introduced and have always been popular when it has been possible to accommodate them.
A high percentage of our children and young people have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although we are not an ‘Autism Specific organisation’ each service we provide is designed to meet individual need. We get to know our families before we offer services. We now have over 150 families using Buddies.
Our mainstream nursery now caters for 55 children from 0-5 years. A team of dedicated child development officers support our Nursery with seniors in each of the rooms (0-2, 2-3, 3-5) to help support our children. They are assisted and led by the Nursery coordinator.
The team is managed by Julie Cowan who manages both Nursery and Main Services.
The manager is overseen by the Chief Executive and the Board of Management which is parent led.