This Volunteers’ Week, Hft is reflecting on the contribution of the volunteers who give up their time to support people with learning disabilities.

Among the 111 volunteers for the cause is Alexander Pennington, a Devon-based private security expert. The 39 year old from Newton Abbot is the managing director of Protectus, a premium private protection and security business.  After starting his career in the military and working around the world as a bodyguard to A-list celebrities, Alexander first looked into volunteering when he realised he had the time and life experience to give back to the community where he was raised. A friend with a son supported by Hft recommended the charity and Alexander was recently introduced to 53 year old Karl through its volunteer buddy scheme.

The initiative matches people supported by the charity with volunteers with similar interests, allowing them to access new activities, build relationships and spend time in their communities. People specify what activity they’re interested in and the charity advertises for the volunteer position to recruit someone with similar interests.

Alexander and Karl now spend an afternoon a week together, taking part in activities ranging from dog walks and map reading to visits to a local fire station.

Alexander said:

“My father used to volunteer so I was keen to follow in his footsteps and make a positive contribution locally. It’s been great getting to know Karl – even though we haven’t known each other long, we have a really good laugh together. If anyone is thinking about volunteering, I would definitely recommend it. The buddy scheme is a great opportunity to spend time with someone who shares similar interests.”

During Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June), Hft is celebrating and thanking people like Alexander for the contributions they make. The charity offers various opportunities for volunteering, including corporate volunteering, fundraising and a buddy scheme. Volunteers have the chance to make a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities, while also gaining confidence, skills and new friendships as a result. Hft has over 100 volunteers, who contributed over 8,000 hours of their time in the last year.

Lorna Bird, Project Coordinator for Volunteering at Hft, said:

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of initiatives like our buddy scheme, which unites people with similar interests and couldn’t run without people like Alexander. We’re delighted that our volunteers choose to give up their valuable time to Hft and are always looking for more people to join us in supporting people with learning disabilities to live the best life possible.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,900 people with learning disabilities across the country. This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live with as much independence, choice, dignity and control as possible. That can range from helping someone to find a job, make friends or adapting their home so they can enjoy a greater level of independence.

Notes to editors

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About Hft

Hft is a UK charity supporting more than 2,900 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales to live the best life possible. Established in 1962, the charity uses its own unique Fusion Model to consistently deliver high quality, person-centred support across all its services.

Services range from supported living to residential care – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.

For more information about Hft, please visit

Information about learning disabilities

A learning disability can be mild, moderate, severe or profound and is defined as having a reduced ability to:

  • Understand new or complex information
  • Learn new skills
  • Live independently

For more information about learning disabilities, please visit