Feeling isolated? How Community Circles can help

I recently read an article about how people with a learning disability can feel isolated and lonely because of attitudes towards them, you can read the article from Mencap on the BBC newsbeat page

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/35314142/im-21-have-a-learning-disability-and-going-out-scares-me

The research suggests around a third of people with a learning disability spend less than one hour a day outside their homes on a typical Saturday.

Mencap says “some will face barriers in terms of people’s attitudes.”

The article made me reflect how through a Community Circle relationships have really blossomed as people have got to know each other more.

Dawn invited her friend Rita, from French class to her circle, the friendship was quite new and we weren’t sure if she would come to the circle meetings.  Months have passed and Rita comes to every circle meeting, contributes lots of ideas and is now supporting Dawn in her French class and giving her a lift home and gets a lot of satisfaction herself through being able to contribute to making a difference.

Rita shares her experience of being part of Dawn’s circle;

“I was a little curious when I received my invite.   I wanted to know what Community Circles were about and what benefit they were to an individual.    I also did not want to disappoint Dawn.    I was very impressed by her determination to learn the French language and wicked sense of humour.

Since the circle started I have grown to admire Dawn even more.    She is a very determined young lady who does not let her disability stop her from doing what she wants to do (she showed this really well when she broke her ankle).     Coming to the meetings gives me the opportunity in some small way to perhaps help Dawn to continue to grow and develop and help her achieve what she wants from life.”

David, our Connector in London, says “One of the great things about Circles is that they create a space that allows open, authentic connections to happen; for people to really see and hear each other for who they genuinely are and not from any labels in terms of ability, ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc.  We know this is a hugely beneficial experience for anyone who is lonely or has a marginalised/ stigmatised identity, and also for anyone else involved in the circle.  I think the circle can address both the symptom of loneliness through the connections built in the circle meeting, and also some of the underlying causes such as helping someone gain employment or broaden their interests.”

Community Circles are a great way for us to support each other in our local communities, to build connections, develop new relationships and avoid feeling isolated.  Circles bring a richness to everyone who is involved.

Cath Barton

Community Circles Connector

Alternative Futures Group

Rochdale