When I was a young adult..
At first I was fairly scared, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I couldn’t read or write. My special school didn’t teach me to read and write, they only found out I was dyslexic 2 weeks before I left school. I be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, because nobody ever asked me what I wanted to do. The only thing I could do was retail work.
I went to college first and I didn’t enjoy it because I couldn’t understand things right because of my reading and writing. Then I went on a YTS scheme and they put me on a retail course, it was very difficult to do it. I didn’t have proper support for my reading and writing. I felt very down a lot because I didn’t know what job I wanted, no-one ever asked me, no career day, none of that. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It got more clear when I was older, when I started living at Keyring. Before that I lived with my brother for quite a long time. At first it was ok, but over time he took over everything like bills, he even banned me from my own kitchen in case I burnt something! He did all the cleaning and cooking. I didn’t like that and I wanted to do it. It made me feel frustrated and angry to not be able to look after myself. My brother worried I’d lose my money or spend and not have any left to pay the bills. I would never do that, but he didn’t have the confidence with me to know that and it was very frustrating. Me and my brother was arguing a lot about, I wanted to live on me own and an advocacy organisation called ROP told me about Keyring. I wanted to live on my own and to learn to be properly independent without anyone taking over for me.
When I was about 30 I started to be able to dream of a life like the one I have now…
At first living on my own was fairly scary. I had a great support worker – he helped me to do an action plan to work towards what I wanted to do, like budgeting my money, going shopping, going to the bank and other everyday normal things. My support worker and other managers in the network would support me at the time I moved in, but over the years I got used to it bit by bit. It was tough at first but bit by bit the support worker, the manager and my mother and my friends helped me to be the person I am now.
The hardest part was…
People’s attitudes. Some of my family were worried I couldn’t do it, because before I couldn’t live on my own, have a proper job or kids. Now I live on my own, I work and I see my daughter.
If you want to live independently…
Have faith in yourself, if you get the right support like I did it can be done. The best people to support you are people like myself who have been through what you have. People with learning disabilities can be very good support workers; I supported children to go to the bank, they wanted to open their account but they were scared. I did an action plan with them to build their confidence up. They couldn’t do it overnight but I supported them step by step and now they help other people with learning disabilities to learn the skills they want to. I didn’t know how to put plugs together, one of the gentlemen I supported taught me to put a plug together. Everyone has got skills, but often they don’t realise they’ve got them.
When I was young, when I was living with family and having to do a course without support, I never dreamed that one day I would be planning a holiday on my own to Thailand – I would’ve been lucky to get a daytrip to Skegness! I hate that place, its shit. I had to go there a lot – it’s like watching paint dry, bloody Skegness.
By Shaun Webster, supported by Kaliya Franklin