This week, Neil talks about why he got involved with Where I Want to Live…
Thanks for taking the time to find out more about Where I Want to Live. My name is Neil Bevan and I recently became a Trustee of this exciting new national Charity.
I have experience in working with a wide range of clients in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities sector, in marketing, website and app development, both in the UK and overseas. I also advise and support a leading UK SEND College in a voluntary capacity as an Industry Champion.
I’ve been working with the founders of Where I Want to Live over the last two years, so I’m delighted to have been invited to support the charity’s development further in a voluntary capacity as a Trustee. I see this as an opportunity to contribute through my experience in disruptive technology and digital solutions that are really engaging and can be life changing to their users.
I’ve worked with clients in the SEND sector for over 15 years, and I’ve come to understand, through interaction with students and educationalists, how young people with learning disabilities can gain so much through being given choice as part of their learning journey.
As a result of those choices, many young adults with learning disabilities are able to make a valuable contribution to society through work placements and supported employment, and to feel more valued, make lasting friendships, and to integrate into their communities.
But what happens after they leave the educational environment? As our Chairman says, there are two ‘cliff edges’ that a young adult with learning difficulties approaches.
The first is at 18 when they leave education and either continue to live with their parents or family – or they and their family need to make choices about where they live if it’s not going to be with them in the family home. The second is at around the age of 35 – when their parents are potentially going to need care themselves.
At both of these points – and often at many other times during their lives, young adults with learning disabilities will need to make the choice of where, and how, they want to live.
Many families or individuals may not realise they actually have that choice. Many will not have been in this position before. They may not have the contacts, the confidence or the tenacity to find out what’s available to them. The local authorities, educationalists and social workers do a great job, but there’s little signposting to help if someone wants to make a ‘different’ choice.
I have three children aged from teens to early twenties myself. They don’t have learning disabilities, and we’re going through a stage of life choices at the moment – looking at career options, university choices and ultimately decisions that will determine where and how they live… Young adults with learning disabilities should also be able to have the same kinds of life choice conversations as their peers, and to be involved in making decisions based on their preferences.
That’s why Where I Want to Live is developing a digital and physical toolkit that will help families, carers, educationalists and young adults themselves to communicate their personal choices and hopes for the future. An additional benefit is that the anonymous information we gather from a large number of people benefiting from the toolkit will have so many uses in shaping future policy on housing and social care, as well as empowering these young adults to have their say.
This is why I became involved with Where I Want to Live.
Could you help us? We’re at the start of our journey and if you have experience or expertise that could help shape our vision of a country where adults with learning disabilities have real choice about where and how they live, we’d love to hear from you.