Change that leads to better lives

The Importance of Friends

Insights from Ellen who is 35 and works as an actor, an admin assistant and also shares her experiences of inclusion as a freelance trainer.

The Importance of Friends

I think that everyone should be supported to have friends the way I do. It is healthy. My first friend was my brother Michael. We had such fun when we were children and we are still very close, I also now have a lovely sister-in-law, Emma.

My friend Shannel has been there for me since primary school. She knows everything about me and my family. She is my oldest friend and I met her when I was nine. Me and Shannel have been on holiday together to Greece and we are still best friends now as adults. Two years ago I was the Maid of Honour and witness at Shannel’s wedding in Jamaica. I am “aunty” to her two boys – Kiron and Elijah Michael.

Ellen's Friends

My other oldest friend apart from Shannel is Shirley. I met her at secondary school but she knows everything about me and my family. I love my school friends. They are always there for me.

I had other friends at school who I don’t see so much now. There was Manisha from nursery, primary and secondary, Lisa from secondary and college, Rushna at primary and secondary, Wanita from secondary who is now a model in America and Caroline Taylor from secondary school.

At primary school my friends gave me the nickname of Ellen the Melon and they still call me it!!

My other best friend now is Jade. I share friends with Jade. We go out every Friday night – yes to the pub! And I stay the night at hers. We have been doing that since we were eighteen, when we met a mutual friends’ eighteenth birthday party. Sometimes, other friends, Hannah and Sterre join us on Fridays. I have been on holiday with Jade and other friends several times. We have been to Amsterdam three times and Bruges in Belgium once.

I have been friends with Hannah and Sterre for ten years. I met Sterre through my parents who were friends with Sterre’s parents. We both love drama and are both part of a drama company together. Hannah is Sterre’s PA as well as a friend. We all go out as a group – sometimes swimming, sometimes cycling and sometimes just having fun.

I share my flat with my friend Jamilah who I met at the drama group, where she is assistant director. She has lived with me for three years as a “support tenant” and acts as a PA some of the time. Sometimes Jamilah comes out with us on Fridays.

I also have friends at work who I socialise with and also lots of friends in my acting circles.

Everyone including people with disabilities has the right to have friends and to get support to meet them and keep them. All my friends make me happy. I love meeting them, catching up and having fun.

I am seeing more of my boyfriend Alan, but I will never stop needing my friends!

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This blog was written by the National Development Team for Inclusion as part of our delivery of the Preparing for Adulthood programme, which was funded by the Department of Education to support the SEND reforms.

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