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Friendship Week: Lucie's blog

This week (15 - 21 June) is Learning Disability Awareness week, and this year’s theme is friendship. Today we hear from Lucie, one of our Occupational Therapist working in the Integrated Learning Disability Service, who speak about what friendship means to her. 

"I took some time this week to reflect on what friendships mean to me, especially during the pandemic. During lockdown, I’ve been reminded what an important role friendship plays. Not seeing friends and family has certainly taken its toll. It is so easy to feel lonely and miss the sense of belonging that comes from meeting with friends. I’ve realised that friendship comes in many forms – old friends or new, long conversations or a quick text to check in, going for a (socially distanced) walk with a neighbour or video calling with someone on the other side of the country. I’ve seen the best of people coming out during this time."

"Although my team has been offering a service throughout this time, many of us have been working from home. I have not been into my office or seen my colleagues in person for 3 months now. It has taken some adjustment given that I’m used to working alongside the team. There are usually so many ad hoc opportunities in the day for a bit of peer support, advice, offloading or just having a laugh. I’ve also really missed getting out into the community to see our service users, after all that is why I trained to do this job. But, as a service we’ve adapted; the team have been catching up with each other frequently via telephone, messages and video calls. Being able to see each other even for a quick conversation has made a real difference to me. Even though I have been working from home for a long time, I have felt really supported and connected to the team, not just professionally but personally too."

"I feel really proud that we have extended this support to our service users too. One of our key priorities within the service has been keeping in touch and checking in with our service users and encouraging and supporting them to maintain pre-existing friendships and offering opportunities to create new ones. Aside the weekly contact calls, we’ve created a closed Facebook group for our staff and service users as a place for us to share useful resources (including a video from the staff at the Kestrel Centre sharing messages of support), updates and guidance and fun activities to help pass the time and combat the mental effects of lockdown. Additionally, there have been daily exercise sessions run by a member of our staff team who is also a fitness instructor. We’ve been amazed at how this group has grown into a community where our service users have connected and begun offering support to each other. It is humbling how everyone has pulled together at this time and to see how much our service users also have to give. My colleague set up a virtual social group to offer our service users an opportunity to connect with others, share their own experiences during this time and see some friendly faces. Personally, I have been inspired by the amount of innovation I have seen during this crisis."

"Although a challenging and scary time for a lot of us, across the community we’ve seen so many people pulling together and showing extraordinary friendship and kindness to others. I have found it uplifting to see these gestures of friendship, big and small, that are happening every day and I’m sure these will be the moments that stand out when I look back at this time."

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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pals@solent.nhs.uk

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Highpoint Venue
Bursledon Road
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SO19 8BR

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