Follow that cab!

    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
    services.

    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
    meetings.

    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
    than 20.

    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.

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