Welcome to week two of meet the team – let me introduce you to Graeme…
Why am I involved in Where I Want To Live?
I am the father of Emily, a wonderful young lady, who just happens to have Down’s Syndrome.
Throughout the life of our children, as parents, we all navigate key moments… Their first steps, their first school, and then…..they fly the nest, checking back from time to time for advice, money and a place to feel safe. However, for Emily that was different, the choice of school came with a host of other interested parties and the pathway was unclear. Added to this Emily has a limited ability to understand or make choices for herself – she says “yes” to everything for example.
This pathway gets even more overgrown when she came to leaving education; would she live at home? Did she want to? How does she keep in touch with her friends? How does she keep growing as an individual, or even make her own choices? There is a lot talked about “Person Centred”, and “Involving the individual”, but how do you do this? There is no signpost, no means to pull all the threads together, no manual. So, for my wife and I this was a jungle, packed with questions – how to get funding, where would she live, who would pay for things, how do we even start, what happens and when?
You or I can make informed choices; where we go to university, who we work for, where we live, etc. We choose based on our wants and needs, and financial circumstances, but for the people we love and care for, how do THEY access the choice we have?
We are fortunate, my career in procurement gave me some of the necessary skills to investigate and negotiate the route. After months of stressful and hard work, we secured a wonderful place for Emily with friends at a sheltered community nearby, where she is safe, happy and well cared for, and hopefully this will be for the rest of her and our lives. But this was very much down to our persistence with the authorities, doing our own research, finding the right people for advice and involving Emily as much as possible in the process. I wanted to help others less fortunate than we are, it shouldn’t be like this. So, when Roberto our Chair asked me if I wanted to be involved, I jumped at the chance. Our charity aims to enable people with learning disabilities and their carers/parents to do in a structured way what we did via trial and error.
However, as a new charity, we need YOUR help, If you have experience in Fundraising, or experience in Developing & Managing Databases, or experience in Government SEND policy in England or at a senior level in English Local Authority, then please get in touch, we want to hear from you and help to build better pathways and choices for people with disability. So that we live in a country where adults with learning disabilities have real choice about where and how they live.