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Entrepreneur with cerebral palsy launches enterprise highlighting loneliness in disabled community

David Bourroughs next to his poster for the Business & IP Centre’s local in Lewisham

A disabled man who struggled through lockdown because of the lack of social interaction has launched his own enterprise.

David Bourroughs, from Lewisham, London, lives with cerebral palsy - a condition which does not only bring its own physical barriers but can also trigger isolation and loneliness.

The 39-year-old knows only too well what it is like to feel lonely, a subject which is often overlooked when it comes to disabled awareness.

He told London News Online: “Throughout the pandemic and lockdown I felt very isolated and I knew there must be other people like me who felt the same.

“The pandemic has finished but people still feel lonely, and disabled people are much more likely to suffer from loneliness.”

Bourroughs put his First Class BA Honours degree and digital marketing communication he picked up on at the University of Greenwich to good use by launching the Buddies For All scheme in 2021 for people with physical, sensory and hidden disabilities.

“We pair them up with volunteer buddies so they can meet for coffee, go for a walk or to the cinema or a sporting event,” he told the publication.

“The meet ups can be on the telephone, via video or in person. Whatever their goal is, we want to help.”

Bourroughs, who has recently developed hearing loss and used a wheelchair all of his life, continued: “Everyone with cerebral palsy is affected differently. I can’t do some things other people can, I can’t be a builder and I can’t play football but I can pretty much do anything else.”

Throughout childhood Bourroughs underwent numerous operations in an attempt to straighten out the increasing tightness felt in his arms and legs in the hope he could stop using a wheelchair.

He started education in a special school, but a teacher suggested it would be more beneficial if the family moved him into a mainstream one.

“My parents fought for me to get into a school in Blackheath – it was the only school at the time that was suitable for someone in a wheelchair,” Bourroughs told the publication.

“But the transition between the schools was hard. Disabled people struggle in a way with being socially connected to people who are not disabled.”

The isolating experience he has endured growing up was the motivation to launch Buddies For All.

Bourroughs said: “So a disabled person would be a buddy to a disabled person. I think because disabled people just understand what another disabled person goes through on a day to day basis.

“And I’m happy I have been able to do that. I feel I can really help because I have that lived experience – it’s really important to people.”

He added: “I’ve wanted to prove to myself that I can run a successful business and I can.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I’m at a place now that I’m able to understand the barriers disabled people face.”

[ David Bourroughs has been awarded £10,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund to continue the Buddies For All project. ]

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