Coronavirus: information and updates

Meeting new people and making friends

You can meet new people online, in your local area or through groups, events and activities.

Meeting people with shared interests

There are many groups where people meet to do things they enjoy. This might be theatre, music or hillwalking. There is a group for every interest.

Local shared interest groups

You can find out about these through:

  • local newspapers or newsletters
  • local noticeboards, such as at a village hall or community centre
  • flyers and posters in GP surgeries, pubs and local venues
  • online noticeboards like Meetup

These are informal groups which might arrange events in your area, such as nature walks or outdoor film nights. They may also have a WhatsApp or Facebook group that you could join.

Find groups near you (Meetup)

Warning Meetings and events during coronavirus

Groups may not be able to meet in person during coronavirus. You might need to join a group via video call on your laptop or smartphone.

If you can meet in person, venues may have safety measures to keep everyone safe during coronavirus. This can include:

  • social distancing
  • hand sanitiser stations
  • wearing a face mask or covering
  • changes to toilet access

Contact the venue or group organiser to discuss any concerns before you sign up.

Meeting with others safely (GOV.UK)

Making friends online

There are lots of places to ‘meet’ people online. If you feel anxious about meeting new people, an online group can be an easier way to get to know them.

Searching for an online group can be daunting, as there are so many to choose from.

Stay safe online (Age UK)

Scope’s online community

Scope’s online community is a supportive space where disabled people, their friends and families can chat to people with similar experiences. Once you’ve registered, you can join any discussion or start your own group. Discussion groups cover all sorts of topics, from sex and relationships to socialising.

The virtual coffee lounge is an informal space where you can chat about hobbies, sports, movies, cooking or anything else that interests you.

Join our online community

Facebook

Facebook groups can be ‘public’, where anyone can join, or ‘private’. Private groups based around shared interest or experience are a good place to start. They can provide a space to get to know people.

Private groups usually moderate who joins them. This means that you will have to ask to join the group. The person who ‘owns’ the group has to approve your request. They may ask you a few questions, such as why you want to join the group.

Once you’ve joined the group, you can:

  • chat to other members
  • hear about events, campaigns or meetups
  • comment on posts that you are interested in

Find a group by searching for a particular interest or through a charity’s homepage. Facebook will suggest groups based on your interests and location.

Find a Facebook group (Facebook)

Social media

Social media such as Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram can be useful to:

  • keep up to date with activities that you are interested in
  • chat to people online before you meet in person
  • find and ‘follow’ people with shared interests

Benefits of social media for disabled people (EveryoneCan)

Arranging to meet people in person

Once you’ve met someone online, you might feel more comfortable about meeting up in person. It’s hard to know for sure that the person you’ve met online is being honest with you.

Follow these tips to stay safe when meeting people for the first time:

  • Meet up in a public place where there are lots of people around, such as a pub, café or park.
  • Take a friend with you. They could sit nearby and make sure you are safe.
  • Tell someone where you are going, who you are meeting and what time you expect to finish. Agree a time that you will call or text to say that you are OK.
  • Be careful about giving someone your phone number before you meet. You should be able to arrange everything online.
  • Remember that people can come across differently in person than online. You may not get on when you meet face to face, but go with an open mind.

Find accessible activities

Friendship apps and websites

These apps are designed to help people find friends. They are different from dating and relationship apps. They can help you find people in your area with shared interests.

Meetup was set up to help people find local groups where they can make friends or try out something new. There are many groups for disabled people listed in the UK. You can enter a search term and a location and find out what’s happening near you.

Luv2MeetU is “a friendship and dating agency for people with a learning disability or autism aged 18+”. They arrange events for their members and support people to get involved in social activities. They can set up meetings between members with a chaperone.

Meeting people through volunteering

You can meet people with shared values through volunteering. It can be a great way to spend time with people while completing a shared task.

Many local groups will need volunteers. These groups can cover a wide range of interests, such as:

  • animal welfare
  • performing arts
  • the environment
  • supporting people in need

You could help with things like:

  • organising trips and events
  • record keeping
  • delivering food and medicine

Do-it.org is a national database of over 1 million volunteering opportunities. It offers a simple search tool and includes home-based opportunities.

You can also ask your local volunteer centre about opportunities near you.

Find your local volunteer centre (NCVO)

Search for voluntary work (NCVO)

National organisations and venues

Many larger cultural venues or leisure organisations offer accessible events for disabled people, such as BSL (British Sign Language) signed tours of a museum. These events can be a good way to meet other people who have a shared interest.

To find out about these events, sign up for newsletters from:

  • cultural venues, such as theatres or cinemas
  • leisure organisations like Sustrans, the National Trust, English Heritage or your local Wildlife Trust
  • disability sports organisations and charities
  • charities that support disabled people. They often share details of events that could be of interest.

Talking to organisers and venues about your needs

Meeting people through sport

There are sports and recreation activities at every level. If you enjoy sports, they can be a good way to meet people or become part of a team.

Some sports clubs are competitive, while others are more informal and focused on leisure, exercise or friendship.

Contact the organiser before you go to find out what kind of group it is. They may offer taster sessions so you can try things out without making a commitment.

Many groups or clubs will host meetups or nights out as well as training or competition.

Find a sports club near you (Parasport)

Sports clubs and venues (Level Playing Field)

Disability sports

Meeting people with shared experience of disability

If you prefer to meet people who understand what it’s like to be disabled, you could look for local disability organisations or groups that focus on your particular condition.

Local support groups

There are many local groups that support disabled people. They may be pan-disability or be more specific, such as a group for visually impaired people. They are often informal so you can turn up whenever you like.

Some groups may arrange accessible trips, for example, to the theatre, a museum or a concert. They may also arrange adjustments for the group, such as:

  • a signed museum tour
  • an audio described performance
  • autism-friendly film showing

These groups will usually have considered possible barriers to joining, such as timing or location of meetings. They will know that some people find it difficult to attend regularly.

You may also find you can arrange your own meetups with people from the group.

Being included and going out with friends

Find a local support group

Find your local group by searching online. Many groups have a Facebook page where you can start chatting to other people before you meet up. They may have a Twitter account to keep members up to date with meetings.

Your local authority’s website should have details of:

  • local disability groups
  • support groups and friendship clubs
  • advocacy and advice organisations

Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

Find a mental health support group (Time to Change)

Phab Clubs across England and Wales enable disabled children, young people and adults to get together with friends and family for all kinds of activities and social events.

Find a local Phab club

Meeting people through charities

Some larger charities run their own communities. You can meet people in a safe space, either online or at special events.

RNIB Connect is led by blind and partially sighted people. It brings together anyone affected by sight loss. They run Facebook groups and can help you find community events.

RNIB Connect (RNIB) 

The MS Society offers an online search for activities to connect people affected by multiple sclerosis.

MS Online Community (MS Society)

The National Autistic Society’s online community is a place for autistic people and their families to meet like-minded people.

National Autistic Society Community (NAS)

Find autism support groups (NHS)

Day care centres

Day care centres provide activities for disabled people in a safe and supportive environment. They aim to help people feel less isolated and have more social opportunities.

If you are interested, contact your local authority to find out about day centres in your area.

Find your local day care centre (GOV.UK)

Warning Day care centres during coronavirus

Day care centres are able to open, but their services may have changed to make sure that people are safe. They may have:

  • reduced opening hours
  • limits on the number of people who can be in the centre
  • a smaller range of activities

Some local authorities have local area co-ordinators. They can help you find information about activities to improve your health and wellbeing. Contact your local day care centre to find out what is available.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 17/09/2020

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