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Stephen’s Story

Stephen, aged 27, has found a place for himself in the world of film and photography.

Stephen has followed his passion and is completing a Level 8 course in Tallaght IT.

Orla and Brendan’s story

Orla and Brendan are married 3 years and they are strong advocates for people with intellectual disabilities.

They moved out to live together 12 years ago and got their council flat 2 and a half years ago.

Natasha’s Story

I live in county Kilkenny, in Loughboy, outside Kilkenny city. I’m 44 years of age and I lived with my mother and father until two years ago when I moved into a supported living arrangement.

“Once the bank made the physical adaptations…I was able to work independently”

I work two mornings a week in a bank centre, Banking 365, inputting data. I’ve been working there for 11 years and work independently. The disability services helped me identify the sort of job I might be good at. Then they found this job for me and supported me at the beginning to learn the skills of the job. It was difficult at first and took some concentrating but I did it. Once I learnt these skills and once the bank made the physical adaptations to the bank such as ramps and wheelchair accessible toilets, I was able to work independently.

I like my work because it keeps my brain ticking over and I am meeting people. I’m one of them.

“I enjoy meeting different people”

I joined a local knitting group about 2 years ago in my local library. A support worker where I live found this knitting group for me and supported me to make the first contact. Now I am independent. I can make my own way there because it is close to where I live. I really enjoy the knitting club as you meet different people. You can just come and chat or chat and knit.

I have a good social life. I am a member of a local social club called Club 96. We meet up weekly and then we sometimes go on outings. I also meet a friend for coffee every Friday.

“I am making a difference”

I want to campaign to make places more accessible for people with disabilities so I have a blog. I review places in Kilkenny and then put up a blog describing their facilities www.natashadowling.weebly.com.

I’m happy about this blog because I think I am making a difference to how accessible things are in Kilkenny.

I have also done some educational work in local colleges – making people aware of the needs of persons with disabilities.

Patrick’s Story

Patrick, in his 40’s, works in a local pizza take-away and likes to get ‘out and about’.

Patrick values making connections in his local community and in society generally, as he visits restaurants, art galleries and more.

Maureen’s Story

“It was my ambition for many, many years to live independently”

I love living in my own apartment. I like doing my own thing, being independent.

I am 61 and two years ago, I got my independence and moved into my own apartment. It was my ambition for many, many years to live independently.

For many, many years I have lived in hostel accommodation or community homes with staff. I am so happy to live here with no staff. I can go to bed and get up whenever I like. I like to make my own food. I manage my own medicines. I do my own shopping and cleaning. I have been able to make this apartment my own. I have decorated my bedroom in totally Harry Potter style. I am absolutely mad about Harry Potter. I have lots of posters up in the sitting room as well.

I am able to have my brother over for tea in my apartment.

“I have lots of interests and I meet up with my friends regularly”

Now that I am living independently, I make my own plans about what I am going to do. I really like this.

On a Saturday, I always go to Wilton Shopping centre. I love spending all day there. I know everybody in all the shops and I have my lunch in the same restaurant every Saturday. I have made friends with people working in the shops and some of them came to my 60th birthday last year. I have lots of interests, such as making jigsaws, music and anything to do with Harry Potter and I can buy those sorts of things in Wilton.

I also meet up with my friends regularly in town. We go to the pictures or go for something to eat.

“I feel like I can make my own life now that I have my own place”

Ever since I moved into this apartment, I have felt I could make my own plans. So I thought that I would really like to go to see the Harry Potter experience in London. I started to plan and I decided to bring my niece so that it would be safe if I travelled with someone else. We had a brilliant time and now I am planning my next trip. I would like to go to Euro Disney and to Old Trafford. I would never have been able to do that if I was in a community house.

Also since I came to live in my apartment, I have taken part in community groups and classes. I used to attend a cookery class in the local community centre. I really enjoyed that. That has finished for the moment.

I am a member of the local slimming world.

My support worker has helped me to find these groups in my community.

I like trying new things. I’m adventurous

I travel around on my own on the buses and I like to walk down by the Lough.

I feel like I can make my own life now that I have my own place.

Nicole’s Story

Nicole is 21 years of age and has started on her journey to become a counsellor.

She works with and supports the Counsellor/Play Therapist in Clare Crusaders on a voluntary basis, 20 hours a week.

Joe’s Story

“Having work and paid employment made it possible for me to achieve what I have today, which is my own place…”

I live in Co Clare and am 50 years of age. I have a busy and independent life. Getting a job 17 years ago with Seed Savers opened up opportunities for me. Once I had the steady income from my job, I was able to think about living on my own. I rented a place in the village in 2006 and then put my name on the council’s housing list. I was lucky enough to be offered this two-bedroom house on the edge of the village a couple of years later. I’ve been living here since the 15th of December 2008. I love where I live. I have good neighbours and it’s nice and quiet. It’s very, very important to get on with your neighbours. I can walk to work and to the village for my social life and my music. I’m within walking distance of almost everything.

Living independently is great and I really value that I can come and go as I want and have people to stay and so on, but it is also important to know that there is a lot of responsibility when you are living independently. You have to be very careful with your money so that you can meet your rent and your other bills. You need to understand the contracts you are getting into. This is all important. But it IS worth it.

Seed Savers is a great place to work. I work with a good bunch of people and I meet a lot of people coming though the place from Ireland and overseas. I work 2 to 3 days a week. I maintain the lawns and I am one of the land workers outside. If there is a big event, we all pull together and help each other out. It is a social place to work and we sometimes head off for a night out together. Employability Clare supported me to get this job 17 years ago and since then I have worked independently here. I get great satisfaction working here. It is a nice peaceful place to work.

“People with intellectual disabilities…need to encourage each other to be involved and to contribute to our communities”

I have a lot of interests. I’m interested in sports and I have met more people through my interest in music than any other way. I’ve picked up a lot of friendships through music. I took up the spoons a number of years ago. It has been great. It provides me with lots of opportunities to join in on music sessions.

I have been very involved in my community over the last 20 years. For many years, I was involved in youth work through the community development programme (CDP). I was also on the Board of the CDP for a time. I have retired from all that now.

I believe that people with intellectual disabilities should support others with intellectual disabilities to have fuller lives. We need to encourage each other to be involved and to contribute to our communities. People with intellectual disabilities should not be hidden away. I was part of the group that set up the Platform for Self-Advocates in 2011. I was its first Chairperson. I have been involved in advocacy for many years.

I have a sense of belonging here. A lot of people know me from being involved in so much around Scariff. I believe it is very important that people with disabilities are seen and take part in their communities and are not in institutions.

Brian’s Story

Brian is a young man with great ties to his community.

Through his work in Supervalu for the past 14 years, his studies in NUIG and his love of music, Brian has forged lasting connections and friendships.

Marian’s Story

Marian, aged 30, is an active member of her community.

Marian is involved in her community as an employee at the local hotel, as a volunteer in her local drama group, as a musician and as an educator.

Gerard’s Story

My Work

I work two days a week, 9am to 5pm, in the County Council Offices in Kilkenny, as a Receptionist. This is a job that I really enjoy and suits my strengths as I am an outgoing person and I always enjoy meeting people. I enjoy being useful. I enjoy being helpful and it’s good to be appreciated and valued. I really enjoy getting to meet more people.

I have worked in this job for 6 or 7 years and got the job through a work experience placement organised by the National Learning Network. I now have a permanent job in the Council. SOS, my family and the County Council support me with any changes or challenges in work.

I enjoy my coffee breaks in the canteen in work. This gives me a chance to meet other work colleagues and there is always somebody to have a chat with. We also have a Social Club where we go on outings. We also do things like bingo and bowling.

I go for lunch in the same restaurant the two days that I work in town and I have made friends through this. I enjoy the banter with people especially about the hurling and the sociability of it all.

My Social life

I have a busy social life which I organise for myself. I meet up with a friend every Monday evening and we go to the cinema together. Sometimes we head off for a day trip to Dublin and other spots.

I have a regular Social Club that I attend on a Wednesday evening and I enjoy this too. We might watch TV, chat, sometimes we go out for food and music or bowling.

I get great enjoyment from my involvement in sports. I play pitch and putt and bocce in the Special Olympics. I have done this for the past 20 years. We train every Tuesday evening and sometimes at the weekend, coming up to a competition. We enter a league every year and we meet the same people year after year and also make new friends. It’s nice to catch up. We might win the league this year.

Self-advocacy

I have become more involved in self-advocacy work over the last few years. I am on the SOS Advocacy Committee in my day centre. I have also done some work with Inclusion Ireland. This is important work to me as I feel the opinions and voice of people with disabilities needs to be heard and this is my chance to be involved. It has also helped my confidence and I feel that I am part of decision-making processes for people with disabilities and that other people are just not deciding for us, that we count and need to be heard and listened to.

My Supports

I am happy living in Kilkenny and have become part of my community through my family, where I live, SOS, the County Council and my social life. These are my supports that help me make the best choices for my life so that I live it to my full potential.

I love working in SOS and I am happy to go there during the week. My Supervisor is great to work with and listens to me and helps me in whatever way he can. I can see the Social Worker at any time and they always take the time to listen to me and also care about my family’s needs.

I live with my mam and my sister also lives nearby. I am 10 minutes from the centre of town which makes access to work and my social life easier for me and my family. I love living with my mam and it’s good to have company in the house. My mam also cooks my dinner for me.

My sister drives me to wherever I need to go. She also brings me to training for the Special Olympics. She also helps me with my clothes and any forms that I need to be filled out.

I am very lucky with my supports.

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