Croydon CCG invites local residents to be a friend to a disabled person
People with disabilities can experience considerable difficulties in making and maintaining friendships – and that can really impact on their lives. But friendship provides people with emotional support in times of crisis, boosts happiness and reduces stress, improves self-confidence and is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
According to Sense, a national charity that supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs*, more than half (53 per cent) of disabled people say they feel lonely, rising to 77 per cent for young people. Nearly one in three respondents reported seeing friends once a month or less. Six per cent of disabled people have no friends at all.
International day of persons with disabilities, which is organised by the United Nations, is a chance for people with and without disabilities around the world to come together in the name of friendship.
In the UK there are 11.65 million disabled people. People who are deafblind and sensory-impaired say barriers to friendship include a lack of understanding from others in how to communicate with them. To get the conversation started, why not try these tips for communicating well with a disabled person?
- use a normal tone of voice, do not patronise or talk down to the person
- refer to the person as having [x] disability, not as 'a victim of [x]' or 'suffers from [x]'
- be confident in using everyday language, for example, 'see you later', 'another pair of hands'
- address disabled people in the same way as you talk to everyone else
- communicate directly to a disabled person, even if accompanied by an interpreter or companion.
A good way for people to beat loneliness is to get involved with the voluntary sector. Volunteers get great satisfaction, acquire new skills and make life-long friends. Helping each other improves the lives of local people and makes our neighbourhoods stronger and better places to live
To find out about local volunteering opportunities, Croydon Voluntary Action at http://www.cvalive.org.uk/ to find an opportunity that fits your priorities and your life (or on your street or in your area).
Since 1992, the United Nations' international day of persons with disabilities (IDPD) has been annually observed on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year's IDPD is "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all" and this encourages people with and without disabilities to work together for mutual benefit.
For more information on the international day of persons with disabilities (IDPD) visit: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-3-december/idpd2017.html
* Sense Friendship survey, 1004 people with disabilities, Sense/Opinium, Jan 2015