Molly, 26, wanted to help other people who might be like her; shy, lacking in confidence and feel anxious around new people.

This year, more people than ever are at risk of feeling lonely and isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that the group's meetings could continue, Molly suggested the group hold their meetings online.

For Molly, The Friendship Group started as a way to make new friends and reach out to other people with a learning disability and/or autism who find making new relationships difficult. Molly’s bravery and need to connect others in a similar situation, despite feeling anxious at first, is admirable.

Since then Molly has helped to connect a number of isolated people in the area looking for new friendships and the group has continued to grow in numbers due to Molly's quick thinking and innovative attitude. Moving the group online during the lockdown has allowed for plenty of new members to join and encouraged existing members to develop their digital skills too.

Particularly notable was Molly’s idea to host interactive sessions during the group's meetings. Molly’s sessions have become a highlight for many members and has even inspired others to step up and lead their own sessions.

Ollie, who recently joined The Friendship Group said:

“It’s like a friendship family.”

Peter Connor, MacIntyre's Great Communities Project Manager said:

“It’s been a genuine pleasure to see Molly lead the way with the Friendship Group. She is passionate about getting to know new people and utilising the Friendship Group to address social isolation for people with a learning disability and or autism in Warrington.

I have also seen Molly’s confidence and leadership qualities flourish working with others at The Friendship Group and she is now taking the lead with communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a credit to herself and MacIntyre Great Communities and Shared Lives organisations she represents.”

Congratulations Molly!