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What’s the purpose of the group?

These friendly groups, run by trained volunteers, are an opportunity for adult siblings to meet and support each other.

Being a sibling can be a complex and challenging experience. Whilst we can’t remove all of the stressors in an adult sibling’s life, we can give siblings more resources to cope.

The aims of the group are to:

  • Reduce isolation
  • Improve wellbeing and resilience
  • Share knowledge

We ask members and facilitators for regular feedback to make sure groups continue to meet siblings’ needs.

Who can join a group?

To join a group you need to:

  • Be aged 18 or over
  • Currently live in the UK
  • Have (or had) a brother or sister who has a lifelong disability*
  • Enjoy meeting others!

Some siblings who join a group are carers for their brother/sister, and many aren’t. Some siblings who join are bereaved. You are very welcome, whatever your circumstances or level of involvement (or not) with your brother/sister’s care.

*Types of lifelong disabilities might include spina bifida, cerebral palsy, mild/moderate/severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities, Down Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Dravet syndrome, Apert Syndrome, a Syndrome Without A Name (SWAN), genetic disorders, Cri du Chat Syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, a life-limiting condition and any other lifelong physical or learning disability from birth or early infancy.

Who can’t join?

These groups are just for adult siblings of someone with a lifelong disability from birth or early infancy. A sibling-only environment helps siblings to feel comfortable sharing their experiences with others who truly understand. No parents, partners, brothers/sisters, researchers or professionals will be admitted.

Please note, you must currently live in the UK to join any of our online or face-to-face support groups, as we are not funded to support siblings outside of the UK.

What can I expect at a group?

  • A friendly hello from our trained volunteer facilitators
  • A sibling-only environment that’s safe, confidential and respectful of each member’s different circumstances
  • Chat about sibling-related topics (read more in our eBook and guides)
  • To share your experiences, tips, advice and information as a sibling and hear the same from others
  • To give and receive emotional support
  • The chance to help the group with things like advertising and welcoming new members

What isn’t included at a group?

These are friendly and informal peer groups, where people give and receive emotional support.

  • Facilitators cannot offer you one-to-one support
  • The group cannot offer formal therapy or counselling

If you:

  • Have been through a recent trauma or personal crisis
  • Are in the very raw stages of a traumatic bereavement

You may benefit more from counselling than from coming to a group. Read our advice on how to find a counsellor. Some siblings have counselling and come to a group alongside this.

Who runs the group?

Groups are run by our trained volunteer facilitators, who are siblings themselves. They’re passionate about helping siblings to meet and support each other. Their role is to get in touch with new members, arrange the meetings and to help everyone in the group talk about sibling issues. The facilitators are members of the group too, and they will give and receive peer support like anyone else. Interested in becoming a facilitator? Read more here.

Where are the groups held?

Local groups:

  • Berkshire – Reading (Both online meetings and face-to-face meetings held in line with local coronavirus restrictions)
  • Essex – Brentwood (online meetings)
  • London central – daytime group (online meetings)
  • London central – evening group (online meetings)
  • London – west (online meetings)
  • Manchester (online meetings)
  • Newcastle (online meetings)
  • Plymouth (online meetings)
  • Preston (online meetings)
  • Sheffield (online meetings)

Many of the local groups would usually meet face-to-face, but are currently meeting online due to the coronavirus pandemic. We ask that you join a group you would realistically travel to, so that if and when the groups can meet in person again, you will still be able to take part.

UK-wide groups:

  • National (online meetings)
  • Bereaved siblings (online meetings)

Our national group is for siblings across the UK, and will always be run online. It’s ideal for anyone that doesn’t have a local group close by.

About our local groups

Each local group organises their own meeting dates and times, so once you’ve registered (below) the facilitator will be in touch to let you know. Groups are usually held on a weekday evening, for a couple of hours. There’s a meeting every 4 – 8 weeks. You can come to as many or as few as you like, but please do let the facilitator know if you can make it or not – it helps them to plan.

About our bereavement group

Our bereaved siblings group is a friendly peer support group for siblings whose disabled brother or sister has died. Some siblings may be in their first year of bereavement, others in their fifty-first – all are welcome. It is not a therapy group and some siblings prefer to attend counselling before (or alongside) coming to this group.

There are limited spaces in the bereavement group and a waiting list. A smaller group size ensures that the conversation is manageable and allows everyone time to give and receive support. The group meets 6 times in a 12 month period. New members don’t join part-way through the 12 month period. This helps everyone to get to know each other and make the most of their 6 sessions. Attendance at the meetings is key and we ask that siblings signing up aim to come to 5 out of the 6 sessions.

Our current cohort is underway. If you’d like to join the next bereavement group cohort, please sign up using the form below and you’ll be added to the waiting list. Our brilliant facilitators will be ready to warmly welcome you to the next group. Bereaved siblings are also welcome to join a local group at any time, if they prefer to discuss sibling experiences widely or attend more flexibly.

What our group members say

“I always look forward to the meetings and leave them feeling a bit lighter.”

“I have met a fantastic group of friends who have always supported me when times are difficult and I feel a much stronger person as a result.”

“It is a safe and trusting environment”

“It was a relief to find I was not alone.”

“After an evening at a group I feel re-energised and able to carry on with the job I have to do but did not choose.”

“I am not someone who connects very automatically with new people, but our situation is so specific that I felt a bond and sense of community from my very first session.”

“It was the first place I really felt I belonged as I had never had the opportunity to meet other siblings prior to the group.”

“It has given me the confidence to regularly take my sister out and try to build a better relationship with her which has also given my parents a bit of respite. I also feel more knowledgeable about care and have been given strategies to talk to my parents about the future which I hope to use when the time is right.”

I’d like to start a group

We’re reliant on enthusiastic volunteers coming forward to run these groups, and we’re grateful to have so many across the UK already. Interested in making a difference to siblings by starting your own group? Read more here.

Sign me up!

  1. Read the group member agreement 
  2. Fill in the form below
  3. A group facilitator will get in touch with the date and time of their next meeting

Feedback

What do you think of this page? Drop us a line at info@sibs.org.uk or fill in this feedback form.