The Friendship Circle is a warm and vibrant community within a community for people with physical and learning disabilities in Manchester. We strongly believe in giving our members and those with a disability nationwide, a voice in the Jewish community. We are here not only to speak for our members and champion inclusion, but more importantly to give them the opportunity to represent themselves.
Established 13 years ago, The Friendship Circle run an exciting and varied calendar of fully integrated social and recreational programmes, enriching the lives of our 150 members, helping them gain confidence, acquire new skills and build social connections.
Our programmes, especially our one to one buddy programme, enable our participants to forge lasting friendships. Together with our vast network of over 100 volunteers, we inspire a culture of understanding and acceptance, working to educate and transform the landscape of attitudes towards people of all abilities in our society and give them the tools needed to break boundaries and challenge stereotypes.
From pub nights and singing socials, to Shabbat meals and parties, exciting activities run almost every day of the week, engaging individuals with diverse abilities in stimulating social and educational programmes. Art therapy to dance classes, current affairs to Jewish lifestyle, we provide important building blocks for members to acquire both personal and interpersonal skills.
Day trips and nights out with friends are crucial in combating isolation and loneliness, whilst wellbeing and fitness classes, promote healthy living. Our weekly Drop-In is a warm and friendly place to relax and socialise with friends, something so simple has made an enormous difference to so many.
We encourage our members to go beyond their comfort zone and achieve things they never dreamed of. Strutting the catwalk at our legendary fashion show, climbing Mount Snowdon, displaying their artwork at an exhibition, or speeding around a racing track in a sports car, give our members the opportunity to increase their self-confidence and believe in themselves, that they too can accomplish anything they put their minds to.
Volunteering for Jewish communal groups such as GIFT and MITZVAH Day, and distributing packs to the homeless in Manchester or collecting litter with the Muslim and Sikh communities, empower members to give something back to those less fortunate. Our ground-breaking education programme in local primary schools is teaching future generations about inclusion and acceptance, enriching young lives and helping them develop into well-balanced individuals.
During the pandemic we did our utmost to provide each and every one of our members with emotional and practical support. Virtual programmes, home deliveries of packs and phone buddies, all ensured our members have been able to celebrate the Jewish calendar with as much and sometimes more excitement and meaning as before.
The Friendship Circle believe that to be truly representative everyone must be represented. Communities, locally and nationally are stronger when everyone is heard, and that people of all abilities should have the opportunity to make a difference and be included in important conversations and decision making.
‘Equal Voices’ is a regular forum for members to talk directly to influential people in society who can make a difference. It gives people with disabilities the chance to represent themselves in communal groups and have their voices heard about issues that are important to them.
The Friendship Circle is changing perceptions and creating an inclusive and accepting community we all want to live in. We would love it if you came to one of our programmes and experience first-hand the ‘magic’ we bring to people’s lives and the incredibly positive effect we have on the local Jewish community and beyond. We promise that you won’t be disappointed!
Please visit our website for more information or if you would like to volunteer or fundraise for us: https://www.friendshipcircle.org.uk/