Friendships and peer support

Friendships

It’s not about how many contacts you have, it’s about the quality of your connections. When things get tough, knowing you’re not alone and have people you can count on, trust, and spend time with makes a huge difference. When you are at school, it can be easier to make and keep friends as you see them every day. But after school, you’ll need to put in some effort to stay in touch and make plans to hang out. When you start working or studying further, you’ll meet new people and might want to start new friendships.

Some people are okay on their own and don’t need others as much, and that’s totally fine. If you want to expand your social circle, think about who you’d like to get to know better or what new activities you might enjoy. There are lots of ways to meet new people:

  • Join group activities where you can gradually get to know others
  • Get involved in hobbies, clubs, or sports you like
  • Take a class or volunteer for something you’re passionate about
  • Join peer support groups or recreational organizations to meet people with similar interests and experiences

You might find this resource from SCOPE about maintaining friendships helpful.

The HSE New Directions has created a guide to Circles of Support.

Peer Support

The transition to adulthood is a time of growth and change. While you can talk to people about what’s happening in your life, it often feels like no one truly understands unless they’re experiencing it too. Many people find it helpful to connect with others in similar situations or with similar disabilities. It’s comforting to be with people who understand without having to explain everything in detail. Peer support groups bring together individuals with similar disabilities, providing valuable support where you can share information, exchange ideas, give tips, and develop meaningful friendships.

Check out what some adults with a disability had to say about being part of a peer support group:

 

  • “I had just kinda got on with things since spending my childhood going to appointments. I forgot that people are going through similar experiences, so it was really helpful to reconnect with others.”
  • “I really enjoyed meeting others like me and learning about self-advocacy, which is an area I am interested in exploring further.”
  • “I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Attending the group helped to pull everything together for me and think in a different way about my disability.”

 

 

If this interests you, talk to your health professional about how to meet people with a disability like yours. They can connect you to peer support opportunities.

You might find these resources helpful:

Irish Wheelchair Association Website: Find out about their young adult services

Up – the Adult Cerebral Palsy Movement: Join “Midweek Matters,” a weekly online group meeting for people with CP, centered on topics of interest for the community

Independent Living Movement Ireland: Learn about their peer mentoring

Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland Facebook Page: Information on SBHI Peer

Disabled Women Ireland: Find out more about their work

Cerebral Palsy (Ireland) Facebook Group: A forum for people with cerebral palsy, their parents, and friends to share ideas, problems, and information

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