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Hi readers, it’s Emily and William talking over the next two weeks about friendships. We’d been thinking about what good friends we are, and how important it is to have and be able to manage friendships.

For me, William, I had few friends growing up. I think having a learning disability made it more difficult to meet and make friends. As I got older I might go into a pub to try and meet people, but found it really difficult to strike up a conversation. People were busy with their friends already, and although mostly polite, I think they found it easier not to have to talk with someone with a learning disability like me. I wasn’t confident enough to approach people either, as they might not be friendly or I was rejected.

It all changed when the Friendship Club started where I’ve been able to make lots of friends who I’ve kept in contact with. Making friends at Friendship Club was great because they made it easy. When I joined the staff helped us to talk to each other, helping me develop social skills and make friends. I think it helped I did jobs like collecting the subs as I was talking to more people.

Since then, which was 12 years ago, my friendships have blossomed. I now regularly message people on my phone and meet up independently, like with the group of blokes I’ve become mates with. It’s brilliant I’ve been able to check in with all my friends this last year and when allowed, meet in friends gardens for socially distanced chatting and lots of laughter (especially if our friend Debbie is there!).

Next week we hear from Emily and her experience of making friends, and our final thoughts on friendship.

The writers of the Our View column are supported in their editing by The Friendship Club – a project for adults with learning disabilities, run by People First Dorset.

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