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More than 100 volunteers prepare for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2019

PUBLISHED: 20:56 09 May 2019 | UPDATED: 21:07 09 May 2019

Anna Guy (left) will offer support to Kirsty Storey throughout the festival fortnight thanks to the buddy scheme which is supporting volunteers with learning difficulties. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Anna Guy (left) will offer support to Kirsty Storey throughout the festival fortnight thanks to the buddy scheme which is supporting volunteers with learning difficulties. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

More people with learning disabilities have joined the huge team of volunteers at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2019 thanks to a new inclusive scheme.

Volunteers for this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival assembled at The Forum for a briefing before events begin on Friday May 10. Picture: Neil DidsburyVolunteers for this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival assembled at The Forum for a briefing before events begin on Friday May 10. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Some 137 volunteers attended the briefing session at the Forum Norwich on Thursday evening ahead of the festival launch on Friday, May 10.

This year, festival organisers have created a buddy scheme to support people with learning disabilities in a bid to minimise the challenges they face with volunteering.

An experienced volunteer will offer support and make what can be an overwhelming experience much more pleasant for those who require extra help.

Fabian Webb-Brown (right) will offer support to Jude Edwards throughout the festival fortnight thanks to the buddy scheme which is supporting volunteers with learning difficulties. Picture: Neil DidsburyFabian Webb-Brown (right) will offer support to Jude Edwards throughout the festival fortnight thanks to the buddy scheme which is supporting volunteers with learning difficulties. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The scheme has been expanded this year, taking on more volunteers and also offering a wider variety of shifts in areas such as communications.

Sophie Chapman-Smith, the festival's volunteer officer, said: "We want to make volunteering more inclusive, so we pair volunteers with learning disabilities up with an experienced volunteer.

"Volunteering is very beneficial to people with learning disabilities, it gives them practical work experience, helps them build confidence, lets them develop new skills and presents the opportunity to build social connections."

Nicola Robinson from Poringland near Norwich receives her t-shirt after signing up to volunteer at this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Picture: Neil DidsburyNicola Robinson from Poringland near Norwich receives her t-shirt after signing up to volunteer at this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Among the team of volunteers is Fabian Webb-Brown, 26, who has been buddied up with Jude Edwards, 21.

Mr Webb-Brown, who has been volunteering at the festival for four years, said: "It's a nice way to meet someone new and make a new friend. 
"In previous years you would meet different people in different shifts, but it's nice to know I will see someone quite a few times and get to know them properly."

Mr Edwards said he enjoyed helping others, adding: "I like meeting new people.

Abigail Mann from Norwich was excited to volunteer at this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival as over one hundred like-minded locals assembled at The Forum on Thursday evening. Picture: Neil DidsburyAbigail Mann from Norwich was excited to volunteer at this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival as over one hundred like-minded locals assembled at The Forum on Thursday evening. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Chrissy Leech, originally from King's Lynn, has been volunteering at the festival for three years.

She said; "I started off volunteering because I fell in love with Norwich and this is my way of giving back. 
"It's the people and the feeling that you're actually doing something good, it's the feel-good factor."

The festival has received help from local colleges and Norwich-based charity Stepping Stones in both the recruitment and the running of the buddy scheme.

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