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Benefits of Peer Groups: Perspective of a new member

My name is Jane Quirk. I’m a member of a Peer Group called Disability Elders of All Ages. It has been really important in my life. With the peer group, I feel comfortable and happy to share what’s happening for me, because I know there is already a level of understanding. I don’t have to over explain things. Opening up in this safe space grows my confidence to engage the wider community.  

I caught up with one of our new members, Julianne Jones, to hear her insights and experiences of the group so far.  

A woman with blonde hair and glasses working with tools.

Julianne Jones

What has the peer group brought to your life? 

It has done a lot really. I've felt so alone out in the community and isolated. It’s really great to meet people with disabilities and share a connection. It has created community for me. 


Is there anything you do differently today because of your involvement in the peer group? 

It is a real game changer. I’ve got somewhere to go where people understand me and are non-judgmental. I feel like I can express myself and grow into who I’m meant to be, instead of being limited.  


How do you think a peer group could help others? 

Just having conversations and listening to people, especially with the COVID situation. It is very frightening. And sometimes you just need to hear what’s possible and how others are protecting themselves. Even things like how do you get to see a doctor? How do you get a COVID test? How do you manage workers coming in and out of your house? It is great to be able to talk through all those things that are up in the air. 


Have you had times in your life where you felt lonely and disconnected? 

Quite a few times. My disability is sort of a hidden disability. Often people don’t realise how it affects me.  

Especially with COVID, I’ve had friends say, “Oh it is just a sniffle.” But I’ve got a compromised immune system. And when people disregard that, or don’t know what is going on for you, they could easily come and infect you. It is scary.  


What would you say to people living with disability about whether they should join a peer group? 

Definitely join one because you get so many resources from all the individuals in the group. You can share your problems and help each other find solutions. It is great to have that sort of backup. But most important is having fun and sharing.  

It is great to just have a space to express yourself. It feels great to have your feelings and emotions validated.  


We want a world where people living with disability are included in all aspects of life. But why is it important that we have a space, like this peer group, that is only for people living with disability.  

So often people in the wider community don’t understand. So It is great to have a space where people just understand. You can come and let off a bit of steam, download your problems and share those stupid little things that people do and say.  

I guess it is like a safe spot where people are supportive and can encourage you to go and expand yourself in the wider community.  

It was great to speak with Julianne. I’m so glad that she joined. She is already bringing so much value, and I look forward to watching her grow into an amazing, fully fledged Disability Elders of All Ages member.