Kevin, Billy, Zena and Steve are great friends who desperately wanted to stay together when the property they were living in became unsuitable. They all have moderate to severe learning disabilities and Zena has some physical disabilities.
Growing up had brought different experiences for them. Kevin, Zena and Steve were placed in long stay hospital settings while Billy lived with his Mother until she passed away. They began sharing their lives together after moving into a registered care home in Eastleigh managed by Mencap and spent the next the 12 years together. Over time the supported living model was adopted, and although they remained in the property it eventually became unsuitable.
Kevin, Golden Lane Housing tenant explains, “We’ve lived together for a very long time and we didn’t want that to change. We are really close friends and help each other a lot.
At first we didn’t understand why we had to move but the staff explained the house we were living in couldn’t be fixed so we had to find somewhere new to live.”
Mencap approached Golden Lane Housing who agreed a property could be bought for them using the monies from the 2013 Social Investment Bond. Within a short time the right house was found.
Kevin says, “We went to our new house quite a few times, we really liked it and it was much better than the one we were living in. There was lots of room to move around and we all chose our bedrooms. I really like my room, the wall paper on one wall has a picture of Brooklyn Bridge in New York, it’s great! Together we decided where we were going put things in our new home and what else we needed to buy.
The staff helped us plan what was going to happen next and talked about what it was like to move home. Change can be hard, some of us got use to the idea of moving very quickly but it took a little longer for others.”
In a matter of weeks Golden Lane Housing carried out the work to the house as Zena needed a ground floor bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and there were changes to the bathing facilities upstairs.
Since the move they have been enjoying life and getting to know the people in the area.
“I like sharing with my friends. I feel safe here, it’s a great house and we’ve got nice neighbours.
I’ve got a busy life. I go to work on my bike now which keeps me healthy. Sometimes we go out together to different places and to the pub. I’ve got to know the people at the local shops too, they’re really friendly and we have a good chat.
When I’m at home I love playing on my keyboard, often singing to the staff!
We’ve all got different jobs to do around the house, mine is the laundry and I look after the garden – I’ve got plans for it. I’ve already planted a rose bush but I’m waiting for the weather to get better before I plant anymore, and I’d like a path going from the shed to the house so it’s easier to get to,” says Kevin.
Share your stories with Mencap
Are you inspired by Kevin’s story about living with friends for the first time? Have you had a similar experience? What challenges did you face to live independently? Were you excited? If so, Mencap would like to hear from you! Share your stories with Mencap below.