New befriending service launched in Chelmsford and Braintree

A new befriending service has been launched to support those in Chelmsford and Braintree with a learning disability or autism.

Bfriends, a pilot project delivered by disability charity Hamelin Trust and funded by Essex County Council, aims to help people with similar interests widen their social network and engagement, both as volunteers and participants.

The scheme is ideal for those wanting to share or learn a skill, tackle loneliness and isolation, build confidence with independent living, and make new friends.

Statistically, those with a learning disability are more likely to experience loneliness. In a recent survey of people with a learning disability by national charity Hft, two thirds (66%) of participants said they would like more support to do social activities and make friends. More than a third (36%) said they felt lonely nearly always or all of the time and a third (33%) said they did not feel part of their local community.

Rosanna Henry, Bfriends Project Lead, said it was an ‘exciting time’ to launch the scheme and support those in need.

She said: “We know people with a learning disability or autism are more likely to experience isolation or loneliness which is why it’s so important to provide opportunities like this.

“A little time can go such a long way and will make such a difference to the wellbeing of so many people, as well as opening up their lives to new experiences. We can’t wait to hear from those who can spare some time to support others as well as those who would benefit from this project.”

Those either interested in volunteering their time or those who feel they may benefit from support can get in touch with the team now by filling out a short form at

You can also refer someone who is unable to do so themselves.

Drop-in sessions are also being held at the following locations:

Monday 24th October, 1-3pm, Braintree Library, Fairfield Road

Wednesday 26th October, 1-3pm, Chelmsford Library, County Hall, Market Road

Thursday 27th October, 10.30am-1.30pm, Salvation Army Citadel, Baddow Road, Chelmsford