Warrington: a friendlier place

“I’m going to use my Leaders List award to keep building the Friendship Group so fewer people are lonely,” Molly told us.

Many people with learning disabilities and autism in Warrington have reason to be grateful to Molly. Molly set up The Friendship Group in 2018 through Macintyre’s Great Communities programme, to tackle social isolation.

26 year-old Molly wanted to help other people who might be like her; shy, lacking confidence and anxious around new people. People who may find making new connections difficult.

Molly told us, “Other people could also do this by getting help and support to set up a group to get people together to meet new people and make friends in a nice place.”

Keeping connected was more important than ever during the lockdown, so Molly was the first to suggest the group continue their meetings online using Zoom to help even more people as then the group could be advertised through both the local authority and Macintyre.

Going digital provoked some anxiety but since then, Molly has continued to lead the way, hosting meetings, influencing how the meetings are structured, and helping people to interact through Zoom.

Molly asks two “getting to know you more” questions each week to find out interesting things about each other. For example last week we asked about who inspires us and our favourite pizza toppings.  The questions are always fun and a great way to know more about our friends.

We also talk about current events with Covid 19 and we had a Halloween party at the end of October where we had a quiz and played some spooky themed music. I love the answers some people give and I have heard some positive and inspirational stuff from others who have really grown in confidence since we started on zoom.”

As a result of her bravery, Molly has helped to connect several isolated people in the area looking for new friendships. And two group members have even set up special interest groups of their own having experienced Molly’s group.

The group has continued to grow in numbers and thanks to Molly’s quick thinking and innovative attitude, moving the group online during the lockdown has allowed for plenty of new members to join and encouraged existing members to develop their digital skills too.

Ollie recently joined as a result of Molly’s idea to move the group online. He commented, “It’s like a friendship family.”

Peter Connor, Great Communities Manager at MacIntyre said:

“It’s been a genuine pleasure to see Molly lead the way with the Friendship Group. She is passionate about getting to know new people and addressing social isolation for people with a learning disability and/or autism in Warrington.

“I have also seen Molly’s confidence and leadership qualities flourish working with others at Friendship Group and she is now taking the lead with communication using an online group format during the COVID 19 pandemic.”

It’s never been harder, or more important, to find and maintain friendships. We all need more people with the determination to make good things happen. More people like Molly, who is a very deserving winner of a spot on this year’s Leader’s List.

If you are interested in joining the Friendship Group, please use the form below.

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