The importance of friendship
It’s Learning Disability Week and this year, we’re looking at the importance of friendships during lockdown.
We asked three members of our Youth Network - Lily, Grace and Shane - who have learning disabilities, about how they’ve stayed connected with friends during this time and what friendship means to them.
Who are your closest friends and where did you meet them?
Lily: My closest friends are from school. Others are from our youth group that we attend together once or twice a week. We have not been attending our youth group during lockdown.
Grace: My close friends are those I met Hertfordshire, where I went to school for a while.
How have you been keeping in contact with your friends during lockdown?
Lily: During lockdown I have been staying in touch with my friends via text, WhatsApp, FaceTime. Also, our youth group sessions have been online using Zoom.
Grace: We have kept in touch on FaceTime throughout lockdown.
What have you liked about taking part in Zoom chats with the Ambitious Youth Network?
Grace: I have been taking part in Zoom calls with the group while in lockdown - I have liked seeing everyone faces.
Shane: I participated on numerous occasions on the Zoom chats with the youth patrons by sharing my ideas to everyone in the group. I have improved lots on my communication skills. I was able to follow up the discussions and add my own thoughts when it was my turn to talk. I join in the group discussion and gain lots of information from comments made by other members in the team.
I enjoy being part of the group and have the feeling that I was being listened to by the other members in the group chat. It is great to be able to engage into a conversation with other people. I also feel very proud to be useful and being part of the team.
What are you looking forward to doing with your friends when the lockdown is lifted?
Lily: When the lockdown is lifted I am looking forward to spending time and going for a meal with my friends, bowling, to the cinema, or snow dome. All of the things we did before lockdown.
Grace: I am looking forward to doing more activities like going to the movies and theatres when lockdown ends.
Anything else you’d like to add about the importance of friendships?
Lily: It is important to have friends because it helps you feel happy. We can do things together like meet up and go for a hot chocolate or go for a walk. It makes me feel included and it reduces loneliness. I take part in lots of social activities with the youth group I attend. Last year, I went to Spain with them which helped my confidence and independence.
Grace: The importance of friendship is making more friends and meeting people through groups.
About the authors
Lily, Shane and Grace are members of the Ambitious Youth Network, a national group of autistic young people. The Ambitious Youth Network is moderated by the participation team at Ambitious about Autism to ensure that the network is a safe place for autistic young people.
The Participation team engage with autistic young people every day. Since the start of the pandemic, they have offered online peer support sessions, four times a week, for young autistic people across England.