Aim and Objectives of Sensing Friends

Sensing Friends provides emotional support for young people in Sussex through peer support groups and one to one support.

Building Bridges Between Young Blind, Partially Sighted And Sighted Individuals and the Community.

Our current work focuses on building stronger more meaningful friendships between blind, partially sighted and sighted youngsters.

Starting in September 2017 we have been running a course of friendship workshops from Moulsecoomb Forest Gardens.

These free workshops are truly fun, with lots of creativity and music. The emphasis is on building stronger friendships between the young participants.

The peer group workshops have the exciting theme of The Elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This theme runs creatively through each of these events.

The Big Issue

Blind and visually impaired children need to be able to meet other children who have the same issues as well as having the chance to develop friendships with their sighted peers. Their sighted peers need to gain a clear understanding, empathy and regard for those who are different to them in order to get past stereotyping, on an unconscious, hidden level.

Blind and visually impaired children are often part of their blind community which is vital for developing their positive sense of self. However this on its own  can create invisible barriers with their sighted peers.

Many blind or visually impaired children spend much of their social time adapting to a world that is geared up for those who are sighted. The majority of activities and social stimulation is predominantly biased towards vision. Lack of equal access to things others take for granted often means young blind or partially sighted children end up withdrawing from proper integration into the everyday world.

Embracing Diversity

Events such as Sensing Friends can create seeds for young people to accept each other beyond their immediate differences. Many of the experiences blind, partially sighted and sighted children experience can be shared and embraced together. These shared experiences pave the way for warm social connections and contributes to early social emotional security.

Our mission is to make a positive impact on these young people’s social emotional well being, both in the present and for the remainder of their lives. Sensing Friends does this by creating more emotionally rewarding socially inclusive communities through connections formed at Sensing Friends, which then ripples onwards to affect their long term future.

Child Lead Ethos

We support these young people by approaching, and being with them, in a person centred way. By putting these young people first, seeing their world through their perspective, we can understand, share experiences, encourage and facilitate necessary emotional change in a way that is understood by these young people.

Much of our work is based around Carl Rogers Core Condition, Empathy, Congruence and Unconditional Positive Regard.

Empathy

When we empathise we see and try to experience, with all the feelings, the other persons view of life. We can then respond more emotionally supportively to that person.

Congruence

When we are congruent we are honest with ourselves and others. This does not mean just saying what we think but rather acting in a very genuine way.

Unconditional Positive Regard

When we offer Unconditional Positive Regard we refrain from judging others or providing conditions of worth. We offer instead acceptance of the person as being valid and important despite any differences we have from them.

Sensing Friends both provides the core conditions and models them for the young service users we support.

Safe Enriching Space

The emotional support we offer is run by experienced trained counsellors, social workers, horticultural therapists, creative art play workers and musicians who elicit enriching external resources and expertise, such as the use of nature, music and creative arts.

Most of this warm support is provided in a natural eco-therapeutic environment, within a calm, safe countryside woodland setting. We provide advice, peer group support and one to one support for young people dealing with these emotional issues.