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Living independently in supported housing

04/08/2016

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Raphaela and Glynn Derrick, Roma and Charles DeSilva, Margaret and Alan Summers, Mary and Garry Davies are parents of Cliona, Leanne, Christopher and Hugh who all have a learning disability and live together into a supported housing property.

“They are a group of young people with severe learning needs who have known each other since they were very young toddlers and have shared many years at school and other social gatherings as friends. They are now in their late twenties and early thirties.

Their story started when Cliona, Leanne and Christopher were in junior school together and we all as parents always said ‘one day they will all live together’ with the support they need to live independent lives and enjoy the same opportunities as other young people are entitled to. Hugh is the youngest of the group and the friendship for him grew from being part of social gathering through summer play schemes, and his parents Mary and Garry wanted the same life for him so we started our planning about ten years ago, when we sat one evening with a blank piece of paper drawing up our ‘wish List’ of what we would love for them as friends to live together, with 24 hour support in order for them to have ‘their own lives’ independent of their parents, but ensuring we were very involved in the process.

We knew as parents that although the thought of letting our children go, was something we really did not want to face, but it was our responsibility to ensuring their future, and to know that when we are no longer here to look after them they will be settled and happy with their own lives, and support networks.

It was a difficult process and there were some occasions when we thought we had found the perfect place, but because of the recession and lack of houses being built, slowly our dream began to fade away.

Then we were introduced to Golden Lane Housing through our local authority Redbridge. Our first meeting with this group was in August 2013, and within four months we signed tenancy in December and in January 2014 our beautiful young people started the transition into their new home. This took about 6 – 10 months very slowly and at their own speed moving from family home to their new home.

It is now two years and seven months since they moved into their home, with the care support by Mencap, working in partnership with Golden Lane Housing. It has been a remarkable journey. Our young people have grown in confidence, independence and are living very normal lives as young people should. They all settle into their new lives in a way that even we as their parents can’t believe. They enjoy socialising, their independent skills have grown, and they all have their own interests and are currently planning their first holiday together.

Golden Lane Housing and Mencap entered our lives at a time when there was little resources for our young people. Right from our first meeting with them, their only interest was in finding out about our young people and their needs in order to ensure they could meet the needs of the group. Once that was established, they began the search for the properties and we were informed when properties were available and we were totally involved from the beginning, working together every step of the way. Once the property was identified, the adaptations required started and the rest is now history.

The care and support our young people receive is just amazing. They are all seen as complete individuals with different personalities, and needs in many ways, but they all look after each other just like friends do, supporting each other and it is just magic to see them so grown up and independent.

It has been very difficult letting them go, but the whole experience for both our young children and us as parents has been amazing and we all have been so supported through the whole process. We only wish and hope that so many young people and their families can have what we now have managed to achieve.

Thanking you all on behalf of four families just wanting an independent life for our special young people.”

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