This post, written by Roz Vincent-Haven and Lorna Aberdein of Planned Lifetime Networks, was shared with us by New Story Group. Here, they make great insights about the necessity of social support networks to ensure the wellbeing of people facing isolation, and how these networks can evolve into strong communities all on their own. They also describe the work Planned Lifetime Networks does to create those support networks and foster a sense of belonging in others. Thanks for sharing, Roz and Lorna!
“At Planned Lifetime Networks (PLN) our slogan and deep belief is that “We are better together!” Begun in 2000 by families who were concerned about the wellbeing of loved ones living lives of social isolation, PLN is dedicated to the task of developing and maintaining social support networks. We also believe that knowledge is power and so provide workshops to empower the planning of lives rich in care and relationships.
Sadly, today many of us are lacking informal social support networks – persons we count on and confide in; people who help us out. Our relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances may live far away or be unavailable for support. Yet as inter-dependent beings we long to belong. For those among us who are isolated and vulnerable by reason of disability, age, living arrangement, limited opportunities, or society’s perception, this reality is even more poignant. Often dependent on professionalized systems of support and subjected to negative stereotypes, people experiencing isolation need intentional assistance to make connections and maintain relationships. Planned Lifetime Networks help make the connections that foster long term relationships.
Studies have shown that to lead a long and healthy life, relationships that offer care, support, advocacy, monitoring, and companionship are essential. At PLN, we employ “Community Connectors” to lead the way. These wise folks are not professionals in the formal sense, although they may have a professional background. Rather, they are people who have a passion for bringing people together and have a strong social support network of their own. Using asset based community development, interests and contributions of the focus person are identified. People are then introduced to others who share those interests and appreciate the contributions. Relationships deepen as contribution and care are mutually given and received.
But a funny thing happens on the way to developing a social support network. What begins as a circle of support around a focus person becomes an ever growing web of caring, reaching out through and among all the members of the network and beyond. Two members discover they are going to the same place and decide to travel together. Someone knows of a job for a member recently unemployed. The focus person is no longer isolated but has a whole group to celebrate with and have contributions applauded. In a social support network each person belongs and contributes to the good of the whole. There is mutual benefit for everyone, we are indeed better together.
At Planned Lifetime Networks we have demonstrated that social support networks create greater belonging for all involved but especially for the one who is no longer alone. As more people are cared for in deep networks of relationship the webs of support grow, interconnect, and together we create a greater community of belonging for everyone.”
Roz Vincent-Haven and Lorna Aberdein
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – plnwwo.ca