A friendship project for adults with learning disabilities from South Asian communities has celebrated a milestone anniversary.

Hum Tum, which means ‘you and me’ in Urdu, creates opportunities for members to meet new people, share interests and develop friendships. The project operates in Leeds, Kirklees and Bradford and is run by Hft, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities.

Launched in partnership with Leeds-based community organisation Hamara, Hum Tum was formed as a culturally-sensitive alternative to existing friendship projects for people with learning disabilities.

Over the past five years the project has accumulated more than 100 members and put on over a thousand events, including Eid and Diwali evenings, cinema outings and restaurant meals.

It recognises the cultural and religious preferences of its members by holding male- and female-only events at venues that don’t serve alcohol. Families also play a key role, and are involved as much as possible.

To mark Hum Tum’s 5th anniversary, a special celebration event took place on Tuesday 16th May at Anam’s restaurant in Bradford, bringing together members, their families, and past and present staff.

The day included activities such as jewellery making, henna painting, and dance performances, as well as plenty of opportunities to share stories about the project’s achievements over the last 5 years.

Project Development Worker Farzana Khan has witnessed first-hand the impact that Hum Tum has on its members’ lives.

“We see people who are very anxious and isolated gradually coming out of themselves and beginning to make friends,” she said. “One lady we support was very depressed and didn’t have any friends before joining Hum Tum; now she has a wide social circle and is much more confident. Another person has begun drawing and painting at home after trying it out with us, and is a lot calmer and happier.”

“We also get lots of positive feedback from families who welcome a break from caring for their relative, knowing that they’re in safe hands.”

Ghazala, whose son Khawar has been attending Hum Tum events for two years, is delighted with the change in him.

“The progress he’s made is amazing,” she said. “He’s learnt a lot of social skills and he’s more independent. And it’s not just impacted his life: it’s impacted my life too, because when he’s there I can recharge my batteries and do things that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do when I’m caring for him. It’s really a godsend.”

Hum Tum is open to adults with learning disabilities from South Asian communities. For more information contact Farzana Khan on farzana.khan@hft.org.uk or 07771 941 049.