Making friends and building relationships is an important part of planning your future. Having a network of support helps as you work towards your goals. Staying in touch with people as you move on is important.
You can consider what types of friendships and relationships you may want in the future. These could be employers, colleagues, a partner or new people in new environments. It is important to understand how these different relationships work. And to understand the different ways friendships can be sustained. This includes the safe use of social media and attending activities with others who enjoy the same things.
It is important to deﬁne boundaries and limits within different relationships. For example, you would not necessarily expect to socialise with your employer. But you may expect to socialise with a fellow learner or a colleague. It is also important for you to understand what a healthy relationship looks like and how you can remain safe when meeting new people.
How does it work?
You can make plans to stay in touch to maintain existing friendships. This can be done before transitioning into adulthood. You can make new friends through social groups, community activities or social gatherings and by understanding social boundaries. There are many activities that take place within community centres, local churches or other religious establishments across the city.
Think about the support you will have to travel to and from activities and what support you will need when there. A friend or family member who has an interest in the activity, or a personal assistant could support you. The Enablement service at Leicester City Council may also be able to provide support for a period of time to help you integrate and settle in.
When will this happen?
Arrangements to stay in touch with existing friends and the people you care about should be done in the last year of school. You should consider other social opportunities as part of planning for the future so that the activities you choose to do are available and accessible.
Who can help?
Once you have decided on the goals you want to achieve, there are various options of support available. For example, the Employment- Enablement service could help you understand relationships at work while supporting you to seek training, paid or voluntary employment. Family members or friends may enjoy supporting you to socialise and meet new people. Your school may also provide information and guidance around relationships, and what personal boundaries need to be in place to keep you safe and secure.
The role of parents and carers
Parents and carers play a vital role in supporting the development of healthy relationships and friendships. They may also be key to helping you sustain these. They can help you understand the barriers that you may face, communication and accessibility issues, and positively challenge where necessary – all important both in school and after leaving school. Vigilance around use of the internet and IT where used socially in and out of the home, may also fall to a parent or carer.