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Natural Supports

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There is a lot of focus on independence in our society but we all need and depend on assistance or support from our family, friends, neighbours, housemates, community and work mates. This is often known as “natural support”. Natural supports are the relationships and connections that occur in our everyday life and are typically developed in the community. Natural supports are freely given and not paid and are an important aspect of life. We all need family and friends to love! 

Al Graham celebrating a birthday

Key Points

  • Natural supports can enhance quality of life, build relationships and assist people with developmental disabilities to connect further with their communities (Friedman, 2020).

  • Some people may have few natural support networks and often natural supports can be overlooked or squeezed out by paid supports or services.

  • You can intentionally build natural supports. For example, getting to know a neighbour, inviting family and friends over, doing a favour for a coworker, joining a neighbourhood working bee or community club, going to the same café at the same time every week.

  • Natural supports can provide an important safeguard and may be more stable as they’re not paid to be there.

  • Natural supports should not be used for cost cutting but rather to enhance a person’s life.

Watch Video

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Brodie's circle of support
by Brodie McElroy (Produced by Belonging Matters)

Join Brodie and his circle of support as they come together to assist Brodie with his objectives, plan new pathways, and strengthen their connections.

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Friendship - developing a circle of support
by Sue Robertson (Produced by Imagine More)

Learn about Circles of Support and how they can create opportunities for a person with a disability. Presenter Sue Robertson begins with the importance of having a clear vision for the future. Next, she explains how to set up a Circle of Support. Finally, Sue introduces her adult daughter, Katie, who has high support needs. Katie's Circle helped her to set up her own home 13 years ago. You'll learn how Katie recruits people to support her to live independently. You'll also see why Katie has been successful in building relationships in her neighbourhood.

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Friendships - developing circles of support
by Lisa Bridle (Produced by Belonging Matters)

In this presention Lisa Bridle talks abut the importance of freely given relationships for her son Sean

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Creating a Web of Support
by Linda Hughes

If you’re a person with developmental disability, what are the right supports to thrive in your own place? You’ll meet Linda and her son Jacob and find out…What are supports in real life? What can they look like? What is their purpose? And how can they help someone like Jacob to live in his own home?



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Who will stand with you? Harnessing the goodwill of family and friends through circles of support
by Marg Rodgers and Pam Rallings

Marg Rodgers and Pam Rallings describe David’s Circle of Support and also provide some practical advice and cautions.

image of Circles of Support Periodical cover
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Invitation on the journey
by Marg Rodgers

Marg Rodgers reflects on her time in assisting people to move into homes of their own using circles of support as one strategy. Creating a circle begins with an invitation so it is important to be clear on what you are asking of a person and why you are specifically asking them. Marg shares some of the common responses she has observed and what helps to make a circle work well. This work was done with people who had little or no funding.

Marg Rodgers
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Circle of support, circle of friends, personal network and other things we call it!
by Jayne Barrett

Jayne Barrett from Community Living Project reflects on the importance of clarity of purpose, values and asking people.

Jayne Barrett.jfif
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Asking others to be there - creating a place for support and friendship to grow
by Marg Rodgers

As Margaret Rodgers suggests “the doors to ordinary life do not open automatically for people with a disability”. In this article, Marg discusses ways which may be helpful to “ask” others to be involved.

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Click Here to Read - "Asking others to be there - creating a place for support and friendship to grow"

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Friendship is a two-way street
by Michelle Mullane

In this article, Michelle Mullane reflects on her local friendships and the love, opportunities, richness and support they bring to her life. Some of these friends come together in a circle of support to assist Michelle with her practical life matters.

Michelle Mullane

Click Here to Read - "Friendship is a two-way street"

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Shouted Goodbye (excerpts)
by Jeremy Ward 

Jeremy Ward reflects on the strategies his family put in place to ensure Mena had an active and joyful social life when she moved in to her own home. With a considered blend of housemates, regular invitations for dinner and discussions with Mena, her home became a warm hub of love, friendship, opportunities and a great source of pride.

Jeremy Ward

Click Here to Read - "Shouted Goodbye (excerpts)"

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Friendship - Tipsheet
by Belonging Matters

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick”. Brené Brown (2017)

Friendship Tipsheet cover

Click Here to Read - "Friendship - Tipsheet"

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Inclusive Meetings - Tipsheet
by Belonging Matters

Tips on how to run Inclusive Meetings.

Inclusive Meetings Tipsheet cover

Click Here to Read - "Inclusive Meetings - Tipsheet"

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Circles of Support: Asking - Tipsheet
by Belonging Matters

Tips on how to ask people to join a circle of support.

Circle of Support Asking Tipsheet cover

Click Here to Read - "Circles of Support: Asking - Tipsheet"

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Planning Your Circles of Support Meeting - Tipsheet
by Belonging Matters

Tips on how to plan your circle of support.

Planning your circle of support Tipsheet cover

Click Here to Read - "Planning Your Circles of Support Meeting - Tipsheet"

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