Ashwini is an eye specialist, and Tanya has experience working with people with disabilities. They met at a meetup and got along instantly and spoke about how although there is plenty of vocational training, employment related and medical support for people with disabilities - there aren’t enough community based psychosocial support groups that cater to people who get a disability later in life (for eg, retinitis pigmentosa) or are born with a disability. We realised that we wanted to create a safe space for people to come and share their stories and create a caring community where they could be themselves and feel accepted for who they are, and learn from each other.
We believe that we need a community based model of psychosocial care, and that we learn best from each other. We identify know hows and best practices within our group and reach out to each other for emotional and psychological support. We believe in questioning certain assumptions/societal ideas and stories about our identity as persons with disability and dissect these ideas together to help us understand ourselves better. We also strongly believe that each of us is an expert on our own lives and refrain from giving each other advice, unless we are specifically asked for it. We hope that by creating lists of all the little things that support us during challenging times we can borrow coping mechanisms from each other and have a larger list of resources to rely on during hard times in our lives. Sharing food is a very special and important way for us to connect. Usually for every meeting, 2-3 people will volunteer to bring something for the rest of the group.
None as yet. There are some topics that we do not discuss as a group (medical procedures and treatments, severe violence/trauma and abuse) but our facilitators are equipped to handle these conversations and concerns one on one.
They can sign up by speaking to either me or Ashwini over the phone, after we brief them about the group and tell them what we are about, we ask for their permission to add them to a whatsapp group for ordination regarding meetings.
Sharing home rules/guidelines, Checkin, Introduce the Topic, Go around in a circle taking turns to share (sometimes, otherwise whoever wishes to speak speaks), closing circle, often we end with one of the members singing or playing an instrument, decide when to meet next/which topic they want to discuss next time, take feedback.
Confidentiality - what happens at Insight stays at Insight - Feel free to share learnings with those outside of the group without disclosing personal details and identifiable information.
2. Talk TO each other not ABOUT each other.
3. We don’t discuss medical procedures - people are at different stages of accepting/treating their disability. All medical procedure related questions and information are directed to Dr. Ashwini and she takes a call on whether it is something she is comfortable addressing or provides additional resources to help the person.
4. Humour is subjective, but joking and fun is important for us - so feel free to let the person know if you feel offended by a remark.
5. Invite friends and family only after checking with the facilitators and rest of the group. There are special sessions where one can bring their family/friends.
6. No photos to be taken/posted online without prior consent.
7. Only people above the age of 13 years can come to the support group, for now. Parents of children below 13 may attend in their place.
8. Refrain from giving advice or providing solutions unless the person who is sharing is explicitly asking for it.
We have co-created these set of guidelines and non-negotiables together and we revisit them at the start of every session. We are open to adding this list and having it evolve into what works best for the group. It works well so far because it has come from them.
A sense of connection and belonging, care and support, renewed hope and a better understanding of themselves and their identity, and how they want to relate to the world they live in. We also share tonnes of resources with each other over Whatsapp and they learn about various skill building/job opportunitied and workshops, disability related news and articles etc.
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