“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.