Contributed by Monica Alves, Communications Assistant

Loneliness is something everyone experiences at some point in their lives. In the city of Vancouver specifically, there is a growing sense of social isolation from our communities. In fact, a Province Poll conducted in 2018 found that over 75% of participants have felt socially isolated in Vancouver. We live in an often challenging place to make friends, and many individuals may find themselves alone more often than they would like to be. Among other groups, people living with developmental disabilities are more vulnerable to being excluded than others.

Enter the Buddy Club, a community-based social program that has been bringing together people of all abilities to do different and fun things every month for the past several years. Some of the most common barriers to participating in social activities include a lack of money, and lack of awareness of the opportunities and events happening in the community. But the Buddy Club believes the cost of socializing doesn’t need to be high! The Club aims to build a more inclusive community with affordable and accessible events while having fun. These buddies have been on countless adventures together, such as bowling and pizza parties, pub nights, holiday train rides, and trips to Playland and Grouse Mountain, just to name a few. The Buddy Club’s next big adventure will be St. Patrick’s Day festivities at the Blarney Stone!

This year, the Club was inspired to test out a new format by offering events that are even more accessible. In addition to the monthly event, they have added weekly drop-in events in New Westminster. Every Thursday, drop by 321 6th St. New West between 4 and 8pm and join in on these free and low cost activities. Most drop-ins are free to attend. Buddies will get the chance to learn how to make a mouthwatering meal on the first week of every month, with a $2-3 cost attached. Club facilitator Andra Brisbin explained what brought about this recent change: “We are currently trying to eliminate anything that may be causing barriers to attending our events, and we decided that cost may be one of those things.”

Sung and Teena at the Cookies and Cards event

The drop-in schedule kicked off last month in February, featuring a taco making Mexican night, Karaoke, movies and popcorn, and bingo. On February 14th, buddies came together to mingle, enjoy a snack, and decorate festive cards and cookies for a special someone at their Valentine’s Day celebration. Although the attendance has been slow and steady, the Club has been seeing new faces every week. They hope to continue facilitating social connections and cultivating a sense of belonging among buddies in their community. This club is great for individuals looking to expand their social horizons and introduce a little more fun into their lives. So what are you waiting for? Don’t be a bore… Meet a buddy, bring a buddy, be a buddy.

Take a peek at our March Events Calendar here! While it is drop-in, RSVPs are appreciated. Staffing is limited so if you need any 1:1 supports, bring a friend/family member/support person. Location is accessible. For more information or to RSVP, contact Andra Brisbin: [email protected] or 604-356-1877.