Being in community means having friends and allies, people who will support you when you need it. It also means being able to help out others. And it means feeling that you own a space of the world we live in and share.
Our community connection workers come alongside isolated people to find ways to link them with others or find valued roles in the community, like employer/employee or volunteer or simply good mate.
Here are some stories to illustrate the work:
Grace has lived in West End for many years, and she knows a lot of local people, places and community groups. Grace is deeply courteous and respectful towards others, greatly valuing mutuality and reciprocity in her relationships. At times, however, communication can be a barrier for Grace and those she is trying to communicate with due to Grace’s mental health experiences. In her daily life Grace deals with formal thought disorder, which means that her thinking and speech can be tangential or fragmented and difficult to follow. Grace’s way of thinking and her experiences can be very different from other people’s. For example, Grace describe hearing voices and seeing things that other people do not hear or see, which can be disruptive and difficult for Grace and unsettling for people who don’t realise or understand what is happening for Grace.
Grace connected with A Place to Belong after identifying a personal learning goal of wanting to be able to log on to a computer. Grace’s involvement with the Reading and Writing Group at A Place to belong led to her linking up with the Inclusion Team, with the aim of Grace deepening and sustaining her community connections. Through our mutual learning and work together Grace has enlarged her circle of allies and friends and is considering other options for living than the West End hostel where she currently lives, including sharing a home with others.
A person we support – let’s call her Dianne – is desperately lonely. Dianne lives with a range of disabilities and is excluded by many people in her locality.
Our workers have recently helped her to meet a young woman who has made a commitment to spend time with her. Dianne regularly visits this woman for meals and for coffees. She has met others in the household who also offer friendship and assistance with a range of things.
We have begun talking to Dianne and others in her support network about how we can develop a share-housing situation where she can share more of life with others.
A man – let’s call him James – lives with multiple disabilities. When frustrated or anxious he often became aggressive or violent. He was evicted from a number of low budget hostels and placed in lockup facilities for people who are a risk to others.
With his consent, we organised a voluntary circle of support to look at ways of improving his life opportunities. Some people in the circle contributed for a few months by assisting him and taking him out to places, and one man has made a long term commitment to James. We have also advocated at high levels of government for James. He is now out of the lockup facility, has funded supports and is living in an independent unit. His ally from the circle of support still spends regular time with him, catching up and going out to community events.
James’ life opportunities have been significantly increased by a combination of funded supports, having his own accommodation and having some freely given community relationships.
Contact us if you or someone you know may be interested in finding out more about community inclusion.
There is no cost for this service. The service is funded by the Department of Communities (Disability Services).