Being part of your community

As a person grows so does the importance of having friends, relationships and being part of the community, and unfortunately for many this can also be the most challenging part of growing up. The feeling of being part of the community and not just part of your family is an important step in preparing for adulthood. It can give a sense of being included and lead to the confidence to take part in the opportunities in front of us as well as making new friends and keep old friendships going.

There are many ways to get involved other than being in education or employment and there is support to help along the way.

We are very lucky in Norfolk as we have a wide variety of museums, theatres, art galleries and many more opportunities to enjoy the arts and culture. Giving us the opportunity to stretch our minds, and senses or just to relax and enjoy our surroundings.  Many of these local organisations provide special events or special support so that they are accessible to all, such as signed performances or autism friendly environments.

To find local art and culture opportunities

Many opportunities to take part in a social activity will require some travelling, and if you live in an area with good transport networks, then public transport is likely to be an option to think about.  But if you live in rural Norfolk, your options may be more limited and you may have to plan a bit further ahead.

Information to help you get around Norfolk include:

  • Bus information on timetables, tickets, fares and links to the bus operators
  • Better Journey and Safe Journey cards - produced by First Bus, these cards help you let the bus driver know if you need additional help
  • Community transport information on community transport including flexibus
  • Borderhoppa community transport for south Norfolk and North Suffolk
  • Train station information and links to train and ticket information
  • Cycle information on safe cycling and Norfolk cycle routes

Many types of public transport accept the concessionary travel pass or have concessionary rates of their own.  You can also use the Traveline website to help plan you trip using public transport.

If you need help to travel independently, you may be able to get support with this from the TITAN Buddy Programme.

And don’t forget to check the Things to do section as this is regularly updated with events for young people and the Transition Providers Directory which is a directory of service providers and support organisations in Norfolk that could support you in the community. 

Do you feel that you would like to change your community, do you feel passionate about something, would you like to help others, do you know how to get your voice heard?  It is important that everyone has the opportunity to have their say and that people listen to you, especially when this directly affects you.

So if you are happy to have people ask what you think, feel happy to talk about your ideas and have people listen to you - how do you get your voice heard.  There are several organisations that you can join, with the added bonus of being with like-minded young people, or you can take part in consultations about the things you feel are important.

Groups

  • Youth Advisory Board - brings young people into the heart of local decision making on services for young people
  • Norfolk County Council Your Voice - opportunity for anyone over the age of 16 to take part in focus groups, surveys, mystery shopping, helping to design and commission services
  • UK Youth Parliament - opportunity for 11-18 year olds to stand for election as a MYP (Member of Youth Parliament)
  • The DRAGONs Project help young people with disabilities get their opinions heard by the Norfolk CWD Access & Services Team.
  • School Councils, enquire at your school how you can get involved in your school council – find out more about school councils from the Smart School Council Community website
  • Student Councils and Student Union, ask at your sixth form or college about opportunities to have a voice in your school or college
  • Equal Lives Youth Forum - opportunity for 14 – 25 year olds to have their voice heard and get involved with running events and activities for disabled people

Consultations

Remember if you are 18 years old or over you have the right to vote in Local and General elections, but before you can do this you must have registered to be on the electoral register. There is also an easy read guide to voting in England.

Computers, mobile phones and tablets are a great way to keep in touch with your friends, finding and making new friends and to share things at the touch of a button. You can also use them to find information and to help with homework.  But they can also make it easier for bullies and other people who might want to hurt you to get close to you.  So it is really important that you know how to stay safe on your computer, phone and websites.

The ChildLine and NSPCC websites both have lots of really useful information to help protect yourself from cyberbullying, sexting, inappropriate content and protect your online reputation.  There is also an easy read guide to Staying Safe on Social Media and Online from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities.

Get active and get involved. Taking part in a sporting activity can lead to many benefits beyond just keeping fit and healthy, the sense of achievement of learning something new, the chance to make new friends, maybe getting over the barrier of going somewhere new and even the possibility of making the team and playing competitively in your chosen sport.

To find local sport opportunities visit the following websites:

For many of us, it can be a real problem if we do not feel safe and comfortable when we are trying to do something.  This is the same when we are trying to get out into the community, we need to feel safe and supported, and this could include simple things like:

  • Plan where you would like go and how you are going to get there
  • Take a mobile phone if you have one, and the phone number of someone you trust
  • Take some money in case you need to make a phone call from a public phone
  • Take only the money you expect to need, keep some in your wallet or purse and some in your pocket
  • If you have one, take a personal attack alarm
  • Are your personal belongings, like your phone, wallet or purse kept in a safe place on you, like your bag or pocket
  • If possible, have you told someone you trust where you are going and when you expect to be back
  • If you can, go out with a friend or someone you know

The Home Office has produced a booklet about things to think about to stay safe, both at home and when you go out.

Safer places logoNorfolk is also part of the Safer Places scheme, which provides a safe place for you to go to if you need a helping hand whilst you are out and about in Norfolk.  Safer Places display a sticker in their window, and staff there will have had some basic training to help identify what help you may need. To make use of this service you need to register. You will then be given a yellow card with your name, and the name, contact details of two people you trust. You can currently register with Opening Doors.

In Norfolk the scheme operates in the following locations:

If you need additional help with your activity in the community the Transition Providers Directory provides a list of service providers and support organisations that may be able to provide direct support to you.

Volunteering is a great way to develop your work skills and work experience whilst having fun. It is also a great way to use your talents, build up your confidence and can lead to new friendships.

Volunteering is for everyone and there are organisation which can help you access volunteering opportunities:

  • Voluntary Norfolk - will help you to find volunteering opportunities that match your interests
  • Volunteering Matters - has launched their Futures Project in Norfolk. It aims to increase confidence and raise the aspirations of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by offering them the opportunity to try new activities and develop new networks, with the support of a volunteer mentor
  • Norfolk Directory - Volunteering - Norfolk County Councils directory of services and organisations offering opportunities around volunteering

For more information on volunteering in Norfolk visit the Norfolk County Council Volunteering page.