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Michael’s Story

Michael’s 13 years of work in the local Centra has contributed to his sense of belonging in his community.

Michael is well known and included and this is furthered strengthened by the contribution he makes by volunteering with the local GAA club.

Claire’s Story

“I’ve achieved a lot in my life”

I am 35 years of age and have achieved a lot in my life. I have had to fight to have control of my life and to have the right to make my own decisions.

I left school after the Leaving Certificate when I was 18 but I didn’t go on to any further education then. I was my mam’s carer for 5 years. Later I tried a few courses and went to the National Learning Network but it wasn’t for me.

I’ve always loved caring for kids. I was always the babysitter so I knew I wanted to do childcare. I went online and looked up Marino College and sent on an online application and was called for an interview. At the interview I told them that I needed supports and they said they would arrange it.

They put in place an education support person who would help me to go through the assignments and reading and she helped me with exams. I got extra time to do the exams and support in the exam room. I had a great supporter there. She was a learning support worker. We had a very good relationship and a lot of respect for each other. We both learnt from each other. She really understood me and helped me to manage the frustrating bits of college. She wrote a beautiful note about us after I left.

I approached the college and proposed that I take the two year course and pace it out over 4 years. I had to persuade them to do this but now that they have seen the value of this they are actually accommodating more students like that now.

I have recently been awarded a Level 6 childcare supervision and management qualification, with all distinctions, from Marino College after four years of study. This is something I am proud of and my family are proud of me too, and came to see me graduate.

I have just been accepted to the National College of Ireland to do a level 8 in Early Childhood Education leading to a degree.

I would say to anyone doing a college course you have to be focused on it – don’t just sit there and mess.

I also worked in a playschool with 20 kids. I did my work experience there for 4 years but was an SNA for a little boy in the same playschool. I’m interested in working with children with special needs.

“It’s important to keep changing and learning”

I’m starting a new job working in a Montessori, working as an SNA for 9 kids with special needs. I’m looking forward to working there as it’s all about inclusion.

It is important that workers get their proper rights when working and access to ongoing training in their job. A lot of employers discriminate against people with disabilities, even if they’re able to do the job. People’s attitudes can change if they hear you have a disability.

It is important to keep changing and learning. I keep doing any courses I can to improve my work.

Over the years I have done a lot of volunteer work. I have volunteered for summer projects working with disadvantaged kids in the inner city.

I have also undertaken an amount of advocacy work, particularly around the Lunacy Act and changing the law. I have been involved in research, spoken at Inclusion Ireland AGMs, done training work and spoken at conferences.

My mother died when I was in my twenties and I cared for her for 5 years. After she died the will she had written hadn’t been signed so the solicitors got involved and I had to fight to receive my inheritance. I was made a ward of court and they told me it was to protect my money. I didn’t know at the time it would also mean that I could not even go to the doctors without the court’s permission, go on holidays or get married.

They wanted me to shut down my bank account. I couldn’t get state supports such as Disability Allowance because of my inheritance but I didn’t have anywhere to live. I became homeless and went into transitional housing. It was a terrible time. You had a key worker who I would see from time to time but no real support. I had no services outside of housing support.

“I knew I wanted to have my own home”

I knew I wanted to have my own home, but they wouldn’t allow me to buy a home while I was a ward. I wanted to get a pet dog but wasn’t allowed. I knew I had to get out of being a ward of court so decided to fight this with the support of my cousin and aunt and with the support of Inclusion Ireland. To get out of being a ward of court I had to prove I could make my own decisions. I had to get assessed by the original psychologist and psychiatrist. Both of them said that I had the capacity to look after my own affairs so the President of the High Court discharged me from wardship.

Once I was released I went about buying my house. My cousin and my aunt helped me to look for a house. I wanted to live near my family and near the bus routes to get to and from college and my doctor.

On Valentine’s days 2013, I got the keys to my new home and in May I got my pet dog Marley.

You can read more about my story in this article I wrote: https://frontline-ireland.com/life-ward-court/

Margaret’s Story

Margaret, aged 68, has her own home for the first time in her life.

Since Margaret was a very small child, she lived in institutions and group homes.

Over her life, she has built a large and strong network of friends and supporters.

Cathy’s Story

About Cathy

Cathy is a proud Cobh woman. She is a talented public speaker and has an extensive knowledge of and love for pop music, in particular 1980’s music. A little known fact about Cathy is that she once ran a pirate radio station with her brothers from a shed in their garden! Cathy has experienced a lot of hard times in her life and has lived in the world of ‘services’ since 4 years of age. She attended specialist schools and rehabilitative training programmes, eventually culminating in residential care. Cathy is acutely aware of the different trajectory her life has taken in comparison to others but is slowly and surely working towards finding her place in the world.

Cathy’s Story

My name is Cathy Doyle. I grew up in Cobh, County Cork. During my life, there have been good times and bad times.

I was bullied a lot because I had a disability. Kids used to call me names and set their dogs on me. But I knew deep down that I was as good as anyone else, but not better.

‘Your home is your castle’

When I was in my early twenties I came to live in residential services in Cope Foundation. I lived in my last residence for 12 years. I wasn’t really happy there because I didn’t like living with 11 other women. A good thing that came out of this was that the staff there supported me to get involved with New Horizons (an individualised support service in Cope Foundation). I was linked up with my support coordinator and I pleaded with her to get a place of my own. When a single apartment became available I went for the interview and I had to wait three weeks for an answer. Pot luck, I got a lovely apartment and I was thrilled to bits!

I am living in the apartment 3 years on the 2nd of November. I am really, deep down happy that I am living there. The reasons are: I have my own washing machine and can do my washing whenever I like; I have a fridge and a dish washer but I prefer to wash my dishes myself; I have a lovely cooker and a telly. The apartment was done up really lovely when I got it and I went up to Dublin to Ikea for the day and bought some new things to make it my own. I always say ‘Your home is your castle’!

“I get to make my own decisions and choose how I want to live my life”

I still find many things difficult but I have support when I need it. It is really important who supports me. I like quiet people who are calm and patient and not too ‘buzzy’. My support workers are helping me to become more confident and independent. Being independent means that I get to make my own decisions and choose how I want to live my life and I get support to do the things I want to do.

Since moving, I have joined a local knitting group where I have made some friends. We have lunch out for special occasions like Valentine’s Day and for Christmas and it is great because one of my friends will collect me and drop me home in their car. I also joined a local active women’s group but some of the women there were not so welcoming or understanding and I felt they didn’t want me so I stopped going. I know I have a disability but I feel that I can’t fit in with people who have disabilities and sometimes I can’t fit in with people that don’t have disabilities. This can make me very sad and lonely.

My mam has passed away recently and my dad is in a nursing home. My support worker supports me to visit him. The nurses there let me know when he needs anything and I enjoy buying them for him. I have two brothers who I am very close to. We meet up when we can and sometimes they visit me in my apartment.

One very good thing that has happened is that I have completed a night class in public speaking at Ashton Adult Education Centre and from that I joined my local Toast Masters group. I gave my first ‘ice breaker’ speech after only a few weeks and got excellent feedback. I was so proud.

“Being paid as a visiting lecturer made me feel really valued”

Last year I gave a talk to the Intellectual Disability Nursing students at UCC and got paid as a visiting lecturer which made me feel really valued and I am looking forward to returning again this year. I have also volunteered to give talks to staff and advocacy groups because I enjoy it so much.

I recently completed work experience with SHEP (a community based training and development organisation) and will hopefully be helping them in the future with some presentations.

“I’m looking forward to the future”

What I really want is to have a part time office job but all of that takes time and I know that it will happen when the time is right. I am really happy for that. I know I have a lovely home and I am not ashamed to say that I still get my ups and my downs but I am not ill all the time and I have lots of happy times too. I mainly get sad about things in my past and I wish they had been different. I would like to have been a nurse or a doctor. I am learning now that I cannot change the past and it is better to live each day as it comes and make it as happy as can be. I have also learnt that it is best to take small steps. I know that my future holds good things for me and I am looking forward to that.

John’s Story

John is in his 50’s. At 13, John went to live in a psychiatric hospital. Seven years ago, he moved out to a home of his own, for the first time, in the countryside.

He works, volunteers and socialises in his local village and the surrounding area.

Carina’s Story

“I’m an independent person who has achieved many goals”

I am a 35-year-old woman who lives independently and works part-time.

I feel that I am an independent person who has achieved many of the goals that I have set out to reach. I have a job that I love and live independently in a house I have shared for the last 3 years. I do my own shopping, cleaning and managing the house. I can do my own cooking but my dad often cooks us dinner as he works on the farm nearby us. I have family living nearby that I can walk to and I enjoy that. Where I am living now is more of a community than where I used to live. My neighbours are supportive by giving me lifts to the bus or train if I need it, as I live in the countryside.

I like having the independence of being able to choose how I live. I have a lovely modern home which has everything I need. I have my own separate TV, which I put on a timer at night so that I won’t leave it on all night if I fall asleep watching it.

“I love earning my own money”

I feel I am a hardworking person and have worked in a few different places but the job I am in at the moment is definitely the best one I have worked in. I love working because it allows me to meet new people. Also I would be bored sitting around every day if I wasn’t working.

I work in Busker Browns which is a busy pub and restaurant in Galway City. I have been working there for 5 years now. I was able to get this job as I was placed on the “Let’s Get to Work Project” in the Brothers of Charity Services Galway. An outreach support worker on this project helped me to think about what type of work I would like and what sort of things I was good at. We talked about the experience I had already gained in past jobs and also what I liked and disliked about those jobs which helped us realise what I was looking for.

I work two shifts every weekend and three if there is a bank holiday or busy period coming up. I take great care to make sure I am not too tired for work and always turn up with plenty of time to spare. Most of my work involves setting up the bar and restaurant for service, ensuring the serviettes are folded correctly, making sure all the condiments are filled up and also to have all the cutlery polished and separated, ready for service. I do these jobs as others are depending on what is required of me.

My favourite bit of the work is chatting to the people I work with when we are on breaks. We also have some social outings from work, like at Christmas and other times throughout the year. I always really enjoy these events. I love earning my own money. It’s my money, which I know I have worked hard for.

I really know my job well now and I am asked to train in new people into my job when I am due to go on annual leave from work.

Busker Browns – ‘Carina is great to work with. She is a fantastic worker and always comes into work in good form ready for a busy day with a smile on her face’.

“I love spending time with my boyfriend and friends”

I take part in adult education every year and we can choose courses that we would like to take part in and the areas I feel I would like to improve. I have done lots of courses which have helped me to live an independent life. These include courses on gardening, cooking, literacy, relationships and so on. Over the years I have received certification for many of these courses and after completing level 3 in some modules, I will be progressing to level 4 next year.

One of the great things about having a job is that I earn my own money. This has helped me to travel to places such as Malaysia and Australia, where I have been to visit family. I am hoping to travel to America next year.

Outside of work and education, I have loads of hobbies I enjoy. I have a boyfriend for five years and a great group of friends. We enjoy playing soccer and bowling together in our Special Olympics clubs. We also love playing basketball and going swimming. I meet up with my boyfriend and my friends every few days. I love spending time with them. We usually like to do things like going shopping, going to the cinema and eating out.

Jenny’s Story

Jenny is an outgoing women in her mid-30’s who has very recently moved into her own home.

Since she was a teenager, she has lived in residential or group homes and Jenny and her family are delighted that, at last, she has her own place.

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