Duo helps disabled Aucklanders find friends and love

June 18, 2017

Duo helps disabled Aucklanders find friends and love

Founders of Flourishing Friendships, Diane Morris and Sarah Ward help those with disabilities feel connected in the community. Photo: Supplied

A “eureka” moment between two friends saw the establishment of a new organisation that helps those with disabilities find friends – and sometimes love.

Co-founders, Diane Morris and Sarah Ward started the organisation, Flourishing Friendships, in February this year and have since been running social events to get people involved.

With a combined interest in the disability sector, and more than 26 years’ experience between them, Miss Ward suggested to Miss Morris they start an organisation that connects disabled individuals.

Miss Morris said Flourishing Friendships was a type of organisation Auckland had been lacking.

“Sarah came to me and said ‘there’s something missing in the community’ and then suggested we start a social group for disabled people. I didn’t even need to think about it. She was right.”

Together, they spent months researching different types of organisations and different ways they could support disabled people as well as collecting feedback from family and friends.

“We wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing, and knew what the best methods for helping people were.”

Miss Morris said Flourishing Friendships and the events they run are fun, social and interactive. Earlier this month they ran a social speed dating event.

“At our first event, it didn’t feel like I was at work, it was like hanging out with friends and just enjoying myself.”

Flourishing Friendships not only allowed disabled members to feel supported, but Miss Morris and Miss Ward also helped them find a partner if they wished.

“If they come up to us and express interest in someone else, then we can try to unite the two. Our success rate has been quite good!”

Miss Morris said a stigma still existed around the disabled, and that was part of the reason they could sometimes feel isolated and alone within the community.

“It can be really hard for disabled people to feel like they fit in somewhere so when we have events we really focus on them being a fun, happy environment.”

Flourishing Friendships involves a quarterly membership fee of $40 to cover one-on-one meetings, events and relationship support. It also offers payment schedules to members who cannot afford the cost outright.

Miss Morris said there were big plans for the future with more events and promotion schemes to get the word out.

“Although we are focused on those with disabilities, anyone of any age can come along if they like, we really want to grow our organisation and make it the best it can be.”

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