Achieving goals through creative support
I started working for Brandon Trust in April 2014, at a supported living house just outside Bristol.
This is the first job I’ve had supporting people with learning disabilities. I’d been working in various areas of mental health in the past. It had been a passion of mine to work in the sector, as I had followed the progress of moving on from institutional living to supported living. I saw this as a step in the right direction. I'd grown up in a town, which had an institution for people with learning difficulties and my school provided support for other special needs. Being part of a rural community which had a focus on providing services for special needs, I became interested in taking part. So, I took a leap of faith and here I am.
Things were a bit rocky at first and I felt the service had more potential than it was presenting. I found it difficult coming into a service that was lacking direction and long-term goals. I didn’t feel supported with new ideas that I came into the service with and was unsure how I could successfully implement them.
Then, after only a few months I almost lost my life to a serious illness and was off work for six months. What a drag that was; just starting my new job and now I’m stuck at home twiddling my thumbs!
I came back to work in January 2015, and was welcomed with open arms. I found it very overwhelming. Some staff had left, new staff had come, and sadly one of the men we support had passed away.
A new man came to live with us. He found it very hard to open up at first. We spent a lot of time supporting him with activities (which started in and around the house, as he didn’t want to go outside). We started to show him activities in the garden, as he observed from inside the door. After a while, he started to come into the garden and sit on the patio, pointing at birds and planes going by and getting very excited. He would sometimes enjoy going out for a drive too. It felt really good to be part of this progress and I saw his sense of achievement when he reached his goals.
There have been a lot of changes over the past year and I’m excited to have been a part of it. I'm enjoying using my creative background, being included in decision making, and coming up with ideas for activities to support the men with. I'm currently working on a project with one of the men I support. It involves creating a bespoke handbook inspired by his unique use of Makaton and how he's tailored it into a personalised version! This has impressed us all and shows a huge amount of creativity and initiative. I'll be working on this to be used as a story to be included at Brandon Voices. Brandon Voices really gives the chance for people we support to be heard.
I hope to go further in my employment with Brandon, where I can go to services across the Trust providing ideas for new activities and employment for the people we support.