After what’s been a challenging year globally, we think a little Christmas cheer is something we all need. But for people who experience disabilities, Christmas can be a tricky time.
Getting together in large groups can be very uncomfortable for some. For others, the requirement to purchase gifts can cause financial stress. And for many, Christmas activities may feel exclusive or unsuitable – inciting anxiety and disappointment.
We’ve thought of four ways to support those experiencing disability this holiday season to help everyone in our community to thrive.
1. Facilitate inclusion at social events
Experiencing disability can lead to social exclusion. Exclusion can be the result of being unable to attend an event because of accessibility. Sometimes disability in and of itself can be stigmatising. That’s why it’s important for us to normalise disability by being active in our communities.
Fortunately, there are many community events to get involved in, especially at this time of year. Whether it’s at local churches, schools, and workplaces, or in the vast array of clubs and groups within the community, there are Christmas events in every local area. These events can be a great way to build a connection – which is beneficial year-round.
As supporters of people experiencing disability, we can help by encouraging, and joining with participants to attend local Christmas events. Let’s build those key community connections.
2. Low-cost gift options
It’s not a great feeling to want to buy your friends and family Christmas gifts but not be able to afford them. Christmas is a financially stressful time of the year for many people, especially people on fixed incomes like the disability support pension.
Helping participants choose low-cost gifts for their loved ones can be a great option. Another way to keep costs low is to make gifts at home – something that can prove fun and provide a more meaningful present.
Some homemade and low-cost gift ideas that may be appropriate include:
- Crafting or knitting items
- Gifting seeds, plants, or plant cuttings
- Sharing an experience together, and packaging it as a gift card
- Handmade cards
- An act of service – offering assistance and contributing through skill
3. Attend free local events
While Christmas may seem like an expensive time of the year, in almost every city and local town across Australia there are free Christmas events to attend.
Whether it’s a fireworks display, Christmas displays and decorations to see, a fair, markets, or a parade, there are many fun events to attend that don’t cost a cent. Some cities even show Christmas films for free or have accessible tours to visit light displays. Most shopping centres have both free events and plenty of decorations to admire.
Another great option is to explore the local neighbourhood to see if there are any decorated homes – a fun way to meet people in the local area.
4. Respect social boundaries
While it’s great to help participants engage in the local community at Christmas, it’s also important to recognise that not everyone enjoys social interactions. In fact, for some, socialising can heighten anxiety and affect mental health.
For this reason, it’s ideal to check in with participants, understand what’s going to be beneficial and what isn’t. Then, be understanding if there are experiences and events that participants don’t feel comfortable with. If the anxiety levels have already peaked, maybe it’s time to look at respite options.
Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy and engage in the holiday season. With plenty of free events and low-cost gift options, there are great ways to have festive fun without breaking the bank.
We’re here to help
We’re still around over the holidays to answer any of your queries and to make sure providers are paid. If you’d like to chat with us about plan management, please feel free to contact us on 1300 60 33 89 or email@example.com.
We’re closed on the public holidays 27 & 28 December 2021, and 3 January 2022.