The holiday season has arrived.
This is the time of year where many look forward to spending time with family and friends while eating their favourite food and carrying out holiday traditions.
The same is happening in group homes throughout the city. A group home is a residence where multiple people with disabilities can live together in an autonomous space, free to live their lives with one another in the comfort of their own home.
Nicole Davidson is a Developmental Services Worker and works within one of London’s many group homes. She says that being in a group home during the holidays is just like spending the holidays in any other home. From sharing meals and gifts with one another, Davidson says that there are plenty of holiday traditions to celebrate. “Just because they live in a group home or just because they have a disability doesn’t mean they should have a different experience in the holiday season.”
Although Davidson and her coworkers try to provide an authentic holiday, she explained that, “one of the hardest things is that a lot of people we support do not have family members who spend the holidays with them.”
However, this is where Davidson has really been able to witness true, authentic friendship. “They live together. They see myself and my coworkers every single day. I think the people we support really consider us to be huge parts of their lives, they value quality time both with one another and with us.”
The holiday season has brought an amplified sense of joy and excitement to this home in particular, and it only continues to heighten each day. “We decorate the entire house on Christmas Eve. The people we support always look forward to the 24th because they know that’s the day their house will be decorated with a bunch of Christmas items.”
In terms of how the community can contribute towards spreading the holiday joy in group homes, Davidson says that it is about inclusion. “I think a big focus would be less segregated holiday experiences and more integrated holiday experiences. It would be really great to spend time and events within the community with everyone.” Instead of segregating people into smaller groups, she hopes that, “as a London community, I would love to see us work together to include anyone and everyone, to make every individual feel happy and safe together.”