People with complex disabilities are making new friends and reconnecting with Sense’s support

Two sets of hands holding a coffee cup

Our connection to those close to us has a huge impact on health, wellbeing and happiness. We know from our recent campaign on loneliness, that many disabled people feel lonely and don’t have as many social connections as they’d like.

So we wanted to find ways to increase opportunities for the people we support in our services, to make friends, form new relationships and connect with others.

Friendship meetups are happening all week

As an Operations Manager at Sense, I got involved right from the start with getting managers in our accommodation, day services and Sense Centres, focused on how we could give the people we support the chance to form new relationships or rekindle lost connections.

Between us, we came up with the simple idea to arrange meetups among people in Sense services, where they could make friends and connect over coffee and cake.

The meetups kick off today and will be happening all this week across Sense services.

This whole idea was inspired by a meetup we arranged between a woman and man who’d developed a friendship at a past service, but had since been separated. When I learned what had happened, we made a plan to support them to meet up and reconnect. We looked at appropriate times and places, making sure we were guided by what the couple wanted.

I’m pleased to say that the couple now meet regularly for fish and chips and trips to the pub. Their friendship is really blossoming.

A little communication and coordination is all it takes

We found that through a little coordination among managers, we were able to start finding even more connections in our services and from there we started planning more and more meetups like the ones happening all this week.

During my time at Sense, I’ve seen many friendships develop, often in subtle ways, between individuals in services I have worked in and managed.

This Friday, I’ll personally be catching up with someone I used to support when I was a young support worker many years ago. I was part of his transition team that helped him move from his family home into a Sense service.

He still remembers me and asks after me, and I remember him well. So we are taking the opportunity to meet again. We’ll be going swimming and afterwards, reconnect over some coffee and cake.

Sense provides housing options and individual support services for people with complex disabilities.

Sense centres, education and day services offer a place for people with complex disabilities to build connections by developing communication skills and independence.

Author: Barry Spicer

Barry is an operations manager for Sense in the East of England, overseeing some of Sense's accommodation services.

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