I recently moved into my own Mencap bungalow in Redditch. I believe
my parents wanted me to have first-hand experience of surviving
life on my own before it is thrust upon me due to their internment
into a home or their death.
Mencap provides help 14 hours a day. If you need assistance after
10pm you have to phone for outside help.
My father fixed a grab-rail to the wall for me to hold while I
fumbled for my keys. The toilet is so low that I get cramp from
squatting with my knees abnormally close to my ears.
Living on your own is peaceful. I am never bored. To anyone else
thinking of doing the same thing, I say take everything as it
comes. Make sure you feed yourself and get accustomed to where you
keep the frying pan.
Three days a week I attend a horticultural nursery supported by the
charity Where Next. I am entrusted to attend SpeakEasy meetings
with other service users in Worcestershire and report back
everything that is relevant to the nursery’s well-being. SpeakEasy
is the name for the group of people who give feedback on social
Phil, who works for the county, picks me up from home when I attend
the meetings. These lifts started after an incident in which Phil’s
office sent a taxi for me. The driver did not know the location of
the Perdiswell young people’s leisure centre that hosts the
He had the address but the premises were tucked behind trees and
not clearly visible. The driveway started between traffic lights.
We drove up and down the short stretch of road where the building
should have been. After a quarter of an hour, the driver flagged
down another taxi driver but he was no help. Then to my amazement
another taxi, carrying passengers who attend the same meetings,
drove up to the traffic lights. It turned in and crossed the
pavement. My driver gave it a minute and then gave chase. The road
we followed skirted around a building and almost back on itself.
Then there it was, a large building with a huge car park barely
visible from the main road.
All the SpeakEasy members are enthusiastic. They fill their lives
with work and social activities to the best of their ability
regardless of their physical or mental stability. But this meeting
was disappointing as few people attended. Normally there are more
Returning home five hours later, I wondered whether the driver
would still masquerade as a taxi driver with an A-Z map of the
region in his mind. He did not talk; he did not even request or ask
for verification about where we were going or where I was to be
dropped off. Let’s hope he knows the destination of his next
journey – and not just the place name but also its whereabouts.
Clive Redmond has a brain injury and communication
difficulties and works for the charity Where Next.