Inclusion for All
Our mission is to address the challenges of isolation and exclusion of children and young people aged 5 to 19 years with wide ranging additional needs and disabilities, regardless of a formal diagnosis, by enabling them to experience, and benefit from, weekly mainstream leisure activities of their choosing.
We know that exclusion from leisure and play activities has a significant detrimental effect on children, creating feelings of isolation and contributing to a decline in their mental well-being, confidence and self-esteem.
We support children with a wide range of additional needs including Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down’s syndrome. Our service is unique as we will support children regardless of a formal diagnosis. A child’s complex needs could mean that they need physical support to take part in an activity, that they find it difficult to understand and follow instructions, or that they lack the social skills needed to make friends. We have seen a significant increase in the number of children with mental health, behavioural and emotional difficulties including anxiety requiring our support.
To achieve our objective Me2 Club recruits, trains and supports volunteer ‘buddies’ who are carefully matched to children requiring dedicated help to access a mainstream leisure activity.
Me2 Club wants to:
“As a family we rely on Me2 Club for her social development, fun, adventure and our respite.”
Excitingly we are extending our geographical reach by moving from a Wokingham Borough charity to a Berkshire charity, starting initially with Reading Borough. Our ethos is ‘Inclusion for All’. Specifically, we aim to ensure that every child supported has the opportunity to attend a mainstream leisure activity, “to be included, to belong”.
Our team says: “One of the hardest parts of our job is when a family contacts us in desperate need of Me2 Club’s help, but they live outside of our current operational area. We are delighted to be able to extend our services to families in Reading, helping more children feel less lonely and ensuring ‘Inclusion for All’.”
So, here’s our plan:
To support many more children, we will need to recruit, train and support even more amazing volunteers. We recruit most volunteers (aged 16+) through school, college and university presentations and recruitment fairs. Volunteers then attend an induction training course on topics including challenging behaviour, inclusion, safeguarding and volunteer responsibilities before they are matched to a child who needs a ‘buddy’.
The volunteers are full of energy and enthusiasm. By getting involved alongside the children they support they become important role models as well as helping them, emotionally and physically, to enjoy a range of activities. In turn the rest of the group learns to include and embrace the Me2 Club child rather than stigmatise them. As a volunteer said: “Me2 Club is one of the best things I’ve done. My experience has honestly been life changing and encouraged me to keep volunteering and working with children with additional needs. I’m so privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing staff, meet caring parents who take an interest in you beyond your volunteer role, and help a really special young person to take part in the activity that they love.”
As a grassroots organisation, providing invaluable support to vulnerable children and young people who experience exclusion and social isolation on a daily basis, your donation will mean we are able to recruit and train even more volunteers ensuring that children with additional needs and disabilities are not left behind.
Parents founded Me2 Club in 2003 because they wanted their children to be able to access the same leisure opportunities as their mainstream peers.
“One of the most wonderful things about Me2 Club is its basic concept - to get children with disabilities out into mainstream activities. I think that for all the children and adults who have spent time with Tom at Scouts, they have a better understanding about disability and that people with disabilities do not have to be feared and have a great deal to offer.”
Each year we face a growing demand for our innovative work and last year we supported a record 117 children and their families throughout Wokingham. Many disabled children and young people say that leisure and play – after school, in the holidays and at weekends – is the most important missing element in their lives. (Source: Contact a Family – Holidays, Play and Leisure Guide – March 2017.)
- In 2011 we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, an MBE for volunteer groups.
- In 2019 we were nominated for a Pride of Reading Award, for the category: Charity of the Year.
- In 2020 we won a Get Berkshire Active Award, for the category: Youth Engagement Project of the Year.
Meet Kennan and Joseph
Eleven-year-old Kennan loves playing football, however, he can’t always express his emotions appropriately due to his anxiety and speech and language difficulties. He also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and challenging behaviour and was often excluded from his football club sessions and never picked for the team.
In November 2017, Me2 Club matched Kennan with a special volunteer called Joseph, who shares his love of football. They have built a great friendship and with Joseph’s support Kennan’s confidence has grown so he can take part in football training sessions. Now he even gets picked for the team.
Together, Kennan and Joseph have been on one of our ‘Days Away’ to see a film and go bowling. This was so important for Kennan to build trust with Me2 Club staff to feel confident enough to start coming on our ‘Weekends Away’ at an activity centre. After Kennan’s first residential trip away from home without family, his mum said it: “...enabled me to spend some time and attention with the younger ones, which I don’t always get to do as my attention is always focused on Kennan. I also felt less stressed as a whole and the house was very calm, which was really nice.”
Kennan’s mum believes this weekend away with Me2 Club was a turning point for him. He has now been on school residential trips where before he was excluded. He finds it very difficult to form trusting relationships, so the bond he has with Joseph is very special and has been vital in enabling Kennan to take part in football and these trips.