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‘Community for Everyone’ fosters meaningful connections and genuine participation in community

About Communities For Everyone

‘Community for Everyone’ aims to foster meaningful connections and genuine participation in community life by connecting volunteer social connectors with isolated individuals who share similar interests.

It is hoped that these connections will result in enriched lives for those involved as well as strengthening the fabric and capacity of the community to be inclusive.

There is a significant gap in evidence about strategies for building and maintaining social connections for people with intellectual disability without existing family or informal relationships. By addressing social isolation and loneliness and promoting inclusive participation, this project will demonstrate how to establish social networks for people who are socially isolated.

The project goes for 2 years and is funded by an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grant.

It will take place in Parramatta, Ryde, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

The project will be codesigned by people with intellectual disability.

An external evaluation led by people with intellectual disability will contribute to evidence.

Check out this video about Rob that was made by our colleagues at Hunter Circles

Get involved

You can get involved by contacting Side By Side Advocacy (for Ryde and Parramatta) and Hunter Circles (for Lake Macquarie and Newcastle).

We can discuss the way you want to contribute to a more inclusive community.

Some ways you may choose to get involved are:

· Become a voluntary social connector

· Attend an information session to learn more about the project

· Attend our free training

· Share your knowledge and skills.

Here are the contact details for Side By Side Advocacy:

Email: info@sidebysideadvocacy.org.au

Phone: 9808 5500

Here are the contact details for Hunter Circles:

Email: info@huntercircles.org

Phone: 0401 388 164

Website: https://www.huntercircles.org/

There is a link to the role description for a social connector below.

Apply to become a social connector!

Form to apply

Frequently Asked Questions

The project is funded via an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building grant (ILC) from the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.

ILC provides funding to organisations to deliver projects in the community that benefit all Australians with disability, their families and allies.

These projects create connections between people with disability and the communities they live in. Projects aim to build the knowledge, skills and confidence of people with disability, and improve their access to community and mainstream services.

The project runs for 2 years. It started in June 2024 and will finish in June 2026.

‘Community for Everyone’ is a pioneering pilot project designed to bridge the gap between profoundly isolated people with intellectual disability and their community. The project aims to enhance the social inclusion and active participation of people with disability by connecting them with volunteer social connectors who share similar interests.

By addressing social isolation and loneliness and promoting inclusive participation, this project will demonstrate how to establish social networks for people who are profoundly socially isolated.

People with intellectual disability are often excluded from community life. Many people are socially isolated and have no access to any unpaid supporters or relationships. Their personal networks are often made up of paid staff, other people with intellectual disability and family members.

This project introduces a new role called a volunteer social connector to help bridge this gap. Volunteers will form close relationships with people, supporting them to expand their social circles and get involved in community activities like art, sports, music and cultural events. By regularly meeting and socialising together, we aim to make it easier for people with disability to connect with community life.

Research shows that having someone dedicated to building social networks is really helpful, but it requires ongoing support. We’re launching in Ryde and Parramatta with Side By Side Advocacy, and in the Hunter region with Hunter Circles. These areas were chosen because people have transitioned from large institutions to group homes, and we know there’s a strong need for community engagement to prevent people from being further excluded.

People do better when they experience, like all other citizens, the good things in life. The potential impacts are huge, for people and for communities:

· friendship

· collaboration

· purpose

· meaning

· everyday citizenship

The project takes place in Parramatta, Ryde, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

You can get involved by contacting Side By Side Advocacy (for Ryde and Parramatta) and Hunter Circles (for Lake Macquarie and Newcastle).

We can discuss the way you want to contribute to a more inclusive community.

Some ways you may choose to get involved are:
· Become a voluntary social connector
· Attend an information session to learn more about the project
· Attend our free training
· Share your knowledge and skills.

Here is a link to the role description for a social connector: Voluntary Social Connector
Contact details for Side By Side Advocacy:
Email: info@sidebysideadvocacy.org.au
Phone: 9808 5500

Contact details for Hunter Circles:
Email: info@huntercircles.org
Phone: 0401 388 164
Website: https://www.huntercircles.org/

Yes! Side By Side Advocacy is always seeking people with skills and interest that can contribute to the work of the organisation.

If you would like a long term connection with a person with intellectual disability you could consider our Citizen Advocacy Program. Here is a link to read more about Citizen Advocacy.

Apart from contributing your time, we are always grateful for financial contributions. There is never enough funding to reach all of the people who would benefit from advocacy support. Your financial contribution can assist us to reach more people. You can donate via our website or contact us. Here is the link to donate via the website. Donate to Side By Side Advocacy via Give Now

Side By Side Advocacy is the lead organisation running the project. Side By Side Advocacy is a not-for-profit advocacy organisation based in Parramatta. We started more than 30 years ago and specialise in advocacy for people with intellectual disability. Our vision is for a world where all people are equal and valued. Check out the rest of our website to learn more about our work.

Hunter Circles is our project partner. Hunter Circles is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in 2021 to support people with disability to take their rightful place at the heart of community. It does this by building Circles of Support around each individual to harness the warmth, creativity, energy, resources and networks of local support networks, who are facilitated to build real connections, community, belonging and social inclusion. Hunter Circles has experience supporting people move from an experience of isolation and loneliness to genuine community inclusion.

A social connector is a voluntary role for a person committed to inclusive communities where everyone is valued.

· You will be matched with a person with disability in your community who is currently socially isolated.

· You will get to know the person and their current interests and connections.

· You will strive to support the person to be better connected to others with shared interests.

· You will receive ongoing training and support with these efforts.

· You will participate in social connector meet ups to share ideas and learnings.

· You will participate in an evaluation of the project led by people with intellectual disability.

Time contribution: Varies. Approximately 5 hours per week plus relevant training.

Location:

10 social connectors will be in Parramatta/Ryde

10 social connectors will be in Lake Macquarie/Newcastle

Yes. There will be specific training relating to topics including:

· Why the project is needed

· The life experience of many people with intellectual disability

· Helping a person with intellectual disability map current connections

· How to assist a person with intellectual disability explore interests and foster connections

· Establishing community networks

· Active support and communication

· Advocacy.

You will also receive ongoing guidance and support from the Project Lead and Peer Trainers.

This will include being provided with tools to record information, specific training resources and advice from people with expertise in topics such as community development, circles of support, advocacy, accessibility and communication.

There is no payment to become a social connector. It is a voluntary role.

You will receive training and support.

You will be part of a pioneering project that aims to bring about meaningful social change.

Yes! We have gathered some links to examples below. We say who created each resource.

We will be making some resources about supporting a person with intellectual disability develop networks as part of this project.

Ted Talk style presentation from Dr Joanne Watson from Deakin University. Dr Watson describes how a circle of support can assist someone with intellectual disability to have their will and preference heard.

From La Trobe university – Enabling Risk: Putting Positives First is an online learning resource developed specifically for disability support workers.

Supported Decision Making resources from WA’s Individualised Services (WAIS)

From ADACAS

From Design Lab at Inclusion Melbourne

The La Trobe Support for Decision Making Practice Framework Learning Resource

Inclusion Australia – 5 steps of Supported Decision Making

From CID – My Rights Matter

Inclusion Melbourne, It’s My Choice Toolkit

Inclusion Australia’s Supported Decision Making Resource Directory

Can’t find an answer to your question?
Contact us with your enquiry.

Contact Us

Do you need more assistance? Contact the Side By Side Advocacy team today.

Contact Us
Level 2, Suite 206, 34 Charles St, Parramatta NSW 2150