With the advent of the NDIS, I think about people with a disability and their families. I think about what their journey towards community inclusion will be like.

For you, local community might mean becoming involved in a local church or community group, or a local sporting or drama group. Community can mean many things to many people, but whatever it means to you, it is important to create and maintain it for you and your loved one’s quality of life.

I think of the isolation that has been created over the years, where one can live in a street full of people and yet never speak to a soul! We need help, but don’t want to bother anyone; they want to help but are afraid of offering in case they offend.

Over thirty per cent of people don’t trust their neighbours. Why is this? Well, it’s not because the neighbours are bad – but because we don’t know them and we tend not to trust people we don’t know.

We need to start living by the saying: let it begin with me.

When I go out of my way to be friendly, more often than not, the result is pleasant… Our local communities can be the difference between being able to help a loved one reach towards independence and having them home forever. With a healthy local network, which we link into naturally, both our loved one and our families thrive.

Having free natural supports is the difference between surviving in life or thriving and I know which I want!

Now we don’t need to become our neighbours’ best friends – just be comfortable and respectful with each other.

When we become actively involved in supporting our local businesses and especially our home businesses, we begin to be seen as people in our own right. Find a home hairdresser or personal trainer or cleaner who live close by and involve them in your life.

My daughter, Miss Chloe, is heavily involved in our local community: she walks the dogs, makes her own hair appointments with the home hairdresser across the road and goes there on her own, chats to people at the local public bus stop, and goes to her personal trainer on her own.

These relationships didn’t happen overnight, but the end result is peace of mind for me as primary carer and mum.

And just like any relationship, if we don’t keep nurturing it, it dies.

I am amazed how often I get, ’Oh, you’re  Chloe’s mum,’ when I am out and about. I love that she has become seen as a valuable person rather than simply a disabled person.

I have gradually taught Chloe how to be home alone for four nights. This would never have been possible without the unpaid natural supports and safety net of my near and not so near neighbours.

And in return they get invited (by Chloe) to her concerts or are made lovely pottery… win, win!

I see my daughter as a valuable asset to our community – not a burden. She brings our community together in the ways mentioned above.  Because of Miss Chloe, our community is rich with diversity and inclusion

Free yourself and create your local community – take the leap and reap the rewards!

Sue Dymond

Sue is a carer, author and the CEO of iDareU. iDareU hosts ½ day workshops about this exact topic. We teach carers and people with a disability how to take baby steps to create their own flourishing community. This workshop is called ‘Creating and Maintaining Your Belonging’. For more visit, her website: www.suedymond.com

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