It’s a well-known fact that friendships and making friends are good for your health – I think I have found the Holy Grail to helping people with a Disability do this in a safe way.
After having spent a decade in leadership roles in the disability sector, one thing that continues to make my brain and heart work in overtime is the social isolation that we see in the disability sector.
Imagine landing the job of your dreams and having no one to share this with, or losing your mum and having no one to hold you or tell you every thing will be ok. Friendships give you a sense of belonging, they help to remove loneliness and depression, they boost happiness and help to reduce stress. Having friends is just overall good for your health. So why is it that in our disability community being surrounded by friends is not really the “norm”?
The importance of friendships for people with disability
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in 2022, reported that 1 in 6 people living with a disability experience loneliness and social isolation, which is approximately double the numbers for people not living with a disability.
The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations reported in 2022 that 1 in 3 people living with a disability will a avoid social situations due to their disability and that up to 44% of people living with a disability will avoid family and friends due to their disability.
5 ways to find friends when you have a disability
Like any skill, and being a friend is a skill, it needs practice and practice without judgement. But where do you start and how do you make friends. Here are my top 5 ways to find new friendships counting down to my #1.
5. Take a walk/roll – take your pooch to the local dog park or go for a walk or roll along a local path and say hi to your neighbours in your local area.
4. Volunteer – offer your time and expertise to support charities and connect with other likeminded people.
3. Attend Community Events – look for groups and clubs that share your interests in your local area. You could even try UDC’s Day Programs in Tweed Heads or Coffs Harbour.
2. Take up a new interest – try something new, join a class, check out your local community centre or church groups.
1. Alvie – Alvie App (@alvie.app) is a new social platform, specially for our disability community. It gives you a safe place, without judgement, to connect with people that share in your interests, that are located in your local area and are of the same or similar age. Where most social media platforms leave our community vulnerable to being taken advantage of this is not the case with Alvie. With Alvie you have the added protection of police checks and system smarts to monitor inappropriate behaviour and keep out unwanted people who may be there for the wrong reason. It is NDIS friendly, and you can have the support of your support workers or family to assist you. In my opinion it really is a game changer in this space.
United Disability Care & Alvie App Partnership
So, while the statistics are grim the future can be bright, you just need to start and if you are unsure and you feel like you have tried everything already. Check out Alvie App, you will be glad you did. UDC are proud to be partnering with Alvie with their charity initiative and for every new membership they will donate $1 to our very own Love your Life, Live your Dreams campaign.
About the Author | Sylvia Capps
Sylvia Capps is the CEO of United Disability Care and has been a part of the United Disability Care family since 2012. She has worked in various leadership roles and is a well-respected leader and mentor to our teams. With extensive management experience, in a number of large Australian organisations, Sylvia brings to UDC a strong business acumen and outstanding people management skills.
Sylvia has earnt the trust of her team, leading by example, hence the utmost confidence that her decisions are made in the best interest of our clients, our staff, the community, and the business. Sylvia is not your ‘typical’ CEO; and in her own words, “she has spent 7 years learning and understanding every inch of the disability industry”. Committed and highly efficient, Sylvia is driven by a purpose that all people living with a disability will live a life of choice, a life they love and with dreams that become a reality.