I am 30 years old and I would like to tell you about some of the things that have happened in my life. I used to live in Uttoxeter, where things didn’t go well and I didn’t get much support. There was a fire in my flat and I lost everything. My mum was worried for my safety. I have a social worker and she helped me move to where I am living now in Wiltshire. I like the place very much; it is a registered care home.
Things have started to get better since the move. I started a three-year long college course called “towards independence” and have an active social life doing things in town, going to the internet cafe and hanging around with friends. On Wednesday nights, I started going to the gateway club where I have a game of pool and a pint of lager. Everyone likes to have a drink every now and then. People go out to the club to meet friends that they have not seen for ages.
I have given up the college course as I found that it was a bit easy for me, so I am looking for something else to do. With the help of my support workers I am also looking for a new place to live.
I feel that I need to move out of a registered care home and into supported living or into shared housing as I need a bit more independence. I have found lots of new friends, but still visit my friends in the north, or they come down to see me.
I am also chairperson of the national forum for people who use Mencap’s housing services. I started doing this in April last year. It takes a lot of work and time, setting up and attending meetings. So does having a break and stretching our legs and drinking coffee. So ask yourself what is more important: work or laziness?
We have also made a DVD called Half Way to Infinity, which is about what we think about Mencap, what makes a good support worker, how we feel when support workers leave and how Mencap could be better.
I work with Ian Tomlinson, Mencap’s national participation officer, who does a good job for Mencap.
A secret that people don’t know is that I’m the brains behind the operation. Ian did a first-class job getting the national forum up and running but it has been a lot better since I took over!
What I believe is that Mencap is a growing popular business and has given me the opportunity to do the things I never had chance to do before. We do things for others, as well as ourselves, and this will benefit us all in the long term. We can achieve so much – not only learning new things, but from other people as well.
If there is anything people want to chat with the forum about then they should not hesitate. We are here to help in any way we can and if Ian or myself are busy there are other forum members they can to speak to. We will listen to you and help you to understand.
Remember, we are your friends and guides.
Roger Burt has learning difficulties