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Gary Brown: ‘I finally have a home I can call my own’

Gary Brown, 27, recently moved into supported living for the first time after being in residential care since he was 18. This is his story of how he was excited to live a life of independence and make new friends with the support of Endurance Care.

I didn’t feel that residential homes ever suited me, as the location of my home made me feel really restricted and I never had very much in common with the other service users. 

So, when Endurance Care were able to provide me with the opportunity to move into a brand new supported living service in Kent, I was very excited, as it meant I could explore a new place and meet new people.

In May, I moved into Rectory House, as Robins Avenue was having it’s finishing touches done to it.

I was made to feel so welcomed at Rectory House, I got along with everyone and joined in with the activities at Woodside Day service such as swimming, bowling and park visits.

To help with my transition into Robins Avenue, I got to know some of the staff members that were going to be working with me there. They helped me look around Robins House during its renovation and I got to choose my own bedroom for when I move in!

One week later, I finally moved into my new home at 39 Robins Avenue, and with the help of staff, I moved all my belongings in and went shopping to choose all the new furniture such as kitchen items, new curtains and some personal shopping.

I built my bed independently and helped the staff with building the dining table and the sofa, for which they praised me for being so polite and helpful.

I have been exploring the new area as I have not lived in this part of Kent before. I travel independently on the bus and like spending time in Maidstone, especially the library and the town centre.

After living alone in the house for a few weeks, I was so excited when Darren, 22, and Ashley, 21, moved in at the end of the month. We all worked together to help build the beds and other furniture, and we all got on really well.

We’re already talking about what activities we could do together!

After having some problems with alcohol in the past, the move to Robins Avenue and has really helped me with overcoming these struggles and I am thankful for the support Endurance Care have provided.

They have helped me with managing my health and well-being and provided me with a monthly budgeting form which helps me see my spending.

Now that I have settled in, I am really enjoying having more independence and being able to live a more responsible life in a home I can now call my own.

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Goal! Rorie’s evening at the football

Rorie Lynn, 27, has recently moved out of Church House and into his own flat in Maidstone with supported living.

Rorie was really close to all the staff at Church House and was great friends with his Area Operations Manager, Jason Perry.

He decided to visit Jason when he was playing for his local football team, K Sports FC. With the help of his new support worker, Rorie researched when K Sports FCs next home game was.

The home game was against Lydd Town, on a cold Tuesday night, but that didn’t stop Rorie and his support worker from going down to cheer Jason’s team on!

Rorie had an amazing time as he watched Jason put in a Man of The Match performance in midfield and score a goal. Rorie got to see him at the end of the match and celebrate the 2:1 win!

“I really enjoyed coming to watch Jason play football and score a goal,” Rorie said, and he hopes that Jason can visit him in his new flat soon and see his new fish! 

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Scott's Story

Scott Goode, 24, moved into Church House, a residential service, in 2013, which had access to a company minibus and the staff were able to support him to try out new activities.

He enjoyed going out and doing trampolining, boccia and bowling, and learned how to ride a bike for the first time at Cyclopark, Gravesend.

In the later part of 2017, Church House began the process of deregistration in preparation to become a Support Living service.

Scott and his mother were happy with the change as it meant he was being looked after better, however, it did mean that Scott would no longer have access to the company minibus.

Staff raised concerns that Scott was displaying some behaviours that suggested he was getting quite anxious, which was unusual given how happy he always seemed to be.

After completing some Incident Reports, staff found that Scott was becoming mostly anxious on the days he would usually go swimming or the Cyclopark.

Unfortunately, the location prevented Scott from going and he no longer had access to the minibus.

Staff started to look into the possibility of Scott getting his own car through the Motability Scheme.

Staff researched the Motability Scheme and found that Scott was eligible to and they went to the local Peugeot garage.

After the process was completed, Scott was told that his car would be ready in three weeks, however he did insist that the car had to be red!

Scott couldn’t wait to go out in his new car and attend all the activities that he missed doing.

Staff have also reported that all the behaviours that they were seeing before have now stopped and Scott is back to being his old happy self again!

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Brian and Val’s Story

Brian and Val have lived at Oaklea Care for 23 and 25 years respectively. They started dating in June 1994 and got engaged on Valentine’s Day in 2006. Brian has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and Val, although not formally diagnosed, is similar in many ways.

Brian and Val live in separate properties about a mile apart of each other. They frequently visit one another and talk on the phone regularly. Both Brian and Val say that they would like to have their own home and live together one day. Their support teams suggested they go on holiday together to gain a greater understanding of what living together might be like.

Brian and Val have just returned from their holiday in Weymouth and we are delighted to say that they both had a fantastic time. The member of staff who supported them during their trip reported that the two of them got on brilliantly.

With the help of the right support package, Brian and Val are able to live as independently as possible and share their experiences with one another. The next step for them is to find a suitable property where they can live a happy and rewarding life together.

- Written by an NCG Support Worker

JH’s Story

I was happy when I moved to Daybreak in June 2015 because I didn’t have to live with lots of people anymore and I could learn how to live by myself. I have learnt how to cook new foods – my favourite is prawn and coconut curry. I really like looking after my own money. Staff used to look after it for me but now I get my weekly money and I have to choose how to spend it and what money I need for my shopping and 1-1 time.

I now live with my girlfriend. I like it because we help each other out, I make my own choices and I feel like an adult. I like that staff are here in my flat. I don’t always need them but I can call them if I do. I now want to learn how to drive and I have got the forms to get my licence.

- Written by JH

Edward’s Story

A few months ago, Edward decided that he wanted to lose weight and get in shape. He worked with his support team to create a healthy eating and exercise plan that he has followed every day since. At the end of last week’s weighing, he is now a brilliant 11.5 stone – a 4.5 loss from his original 16 stone weight. The team at NCG would like to congratulate him on his efforts and progress!

Edward said: “I am really happy I have lost some weight, I can still have some treats but not as often as I used to. I have some new clothes now too.”

- Written by an NCG Support Worker

Katie’s Story

Hello. My name is Katie and I am 28 years old. I have Down’s Syndrome and I don’t see very well. I now live in a flat by myself. This is my story.

I left school and went to college in Shropshire. I did creative arts, hospitality and housekeeping and I have learnt to live away from home.

I wanted to be like my big brother. When he finished University he didn’t come back to live at home and I decided I didn’t want to go back to live with mum and dad either. I moved into a house with 2 of my friends and 3 boys lived in the house next door. There were staff there all the time even at night. It was called supported living. I still lived fairly close to mum and dad so I could still do things with them as well as with my friends.

I have always said that when I am 30 I will be living in a flat of my own. I want to live in Lancaster where I grew up and near to mum and dad and the things I do. I lived with my friends for over 5 years and then I decided it was time to move on. Mum, dad and staff all agreed that I was ready to live by myself.

We found a flat in Lancaster and I moved in 7 months ago. I love it here, and I am close to mum and dad and staff still support me. Staff are now not with me all the time, only when I need them. I am now near to all the things I do and I am very busy every day. I still see all my friends too.

The flat is very cosy. It has 2 bedrooms, a living room with a dining end, a kitchen, a bathroom and a shower room. I chose all the colours for the rooms myself and all the furniture. I do a lot of craft and have made all the pictures and paintings for the walls. Everyone says that I have done very well and I am proud of myself.

This is my forever flat and I don’t want to move again. My dream has come true and I am very happy. Thank you. Katie

- Written by Katie

G’s Story

G came to Harvard Homes approximately 4 years ago. He had returned home to his mum and dad after living with his girlfriend for about 12 months. The relationship broke down due to his learning disability and ADHD. His parents found it increasingly difficult to cope with him and found his behaviour challenging. Social services became involved and placed him into a supported living service.

When he first moved in he was on ADHD controlled medication and had a very negative attitude toward everything and everyone. The first 12 months under our support were very challenging for both G and the support staff. The police became involved on a number of occasions with regard to social disturbances which was difficult for all involved.

However, as time passed and G grew more comfortable with his support team, he became calmer and much happier in himself. He learnt new social and daily living skills and classed the Harvard Homes staff as his second family. He was able to rebuild his relationship with his parents which meant a lot to him.

Four years later at the age of 28, G now lives with his new partner who he met a couple of years ago. He moved out of Harvard Homes in March 2017 and is very happy and calm in his new home. He now manages his own medication and can cook and budget for himself.

He still retains a link with Harvard Homes and pops in to see us twice a month to catch up and have a chat. He still sees us as a link for support if he ever needs us again in the future.

- Written by an NCG Support Worker

Kayleigh’s Story

My name is Kayleigh. I have lived in supporting living since I was 19 years old. I live with Becky and Rosie.

I went to school for 3 years in Lancaster. I left there when I was 19 and went straight to Lancaster and Morecambe college to study catering. I did my maths and English exams. I also have a paid job working at the Spar shop. I work every Tuesday 9am-12pm. I have worked there for 5 years and I really enjoy my job.

I also like going on holiday with my friends and family. I have recently been to Tenerife with my family and I went to Benidorm with friends earlier on this year. During my 1-1’s I like going to the gym and swimming. If the weather is nice, I sometimes go for a walk or go out of town. I have been on trips to the Chester zoo and have been to see the hot ice show and the Blackpool lights.

I have been to see Olly Murs in concert this year and I’m waiting to go see Little Mix. I’m also starting a traineeship at college and am hoping to work at the Holiday Inn doing cooking.

- Written by Kayleigh

Mr X’s Story

Mr X was referred to us by the mental health team in 2008.  At the time of his referral, he wasn’t coping well at all. He was living in his own flat with a floating support package. His flat was 1 of 6 flats in a big house. There was no onsite support and he saw his support worker only a few times a week. He was surrounded by people abusing illegal substances and his mother was taking his benefit money from him. He was in considerable debt and would often self-harm. He was also struggling with his prescribed medication and would regularly forget to take it.

With the help of the mental health team, we supported him to regularly take his medication and ensure he was present for his fortnightly injections. We also reviewed his benefits and, on finding that he was receiving the incorrect benefits, we supported him to make the relevant changes. We supported him to pay back his debts and even save some money which he eventually used to furnish his own flat some years later.

We also worked with him to rebuild a good positive relationship with his mother. Maintaining this relationship over the years was very important to him so when she moved away, we supported him in arranging transport so that he could visit her.

With the help of the mental health team, the self-harming soon stopped and things were going well for him. His confidence grew and he started to integrate with the local community. He loves learning so we helped him enrol in college and supported him to attend his courses. Our staff also helped him to improve his independent life skills and manage his busy calendar.

In 2010, his support package was reviewed and he was able to move into one of our homes set up as a stepping stone towards independent living. He kept the same staff team which helped ensure the smoothest transition possible. He continued to do well and live a balanced life in his new home. He was going on dates with girls he met at college and socialising with friends on a regular basis.

In 2012, he moved into his own flat and we arranged a floating support package for him. Since then, he has lived very independently and has kept up his college education. He has achieved GCSEs in maths and English. He no longer self-harms and has learnt to effectively manage his finances.

His support package was recently reviewed and it was decided that he no longer needed this level of support. He now lives completely independently in the community and often pops in to see us for a catch up and a coffee.

- Written by an NCG Support Worker

Rosie’s Story

My name is Rosie. I used to live with my mum in Wray across the river, it’s a very nice place. I used to work at the George and Dragon on a Saturday. I did the cleaning, the hoovering, the polishing of the brass rails, and also the clearing of the tables.

I used to come for sleepovers before I moved in. Becky and Kayleigh have become my good friends since I’ve moved in and so have the boys next door. I felt very nervous when I moved in but I’m happy here and get on very well with everybody. I felt nervous because I was moving into a new house and I feel apprehensive sometimes when I come to new places, especially when I miss my mum at weekends. My staff were very good and understanding during my moving in period, and I feel comfortable knowing I can go and speak to them at any time.

I am happy living with Becky and Kayleigh and having the boys live next door because they look after me very well and make me feel very welcome. I like living in such a nice place. I miss my mum but she is just around the corner and just on the other end of the phone. When I moved out, she had a mini stroke and I was very worried. My family and staff supported me through this difficult time. It may happen again when I am here but I know my staff will support me again.

I like living near to the sea and going for walks down the prom. We have a lovely garden and I enjoy doing gardening. I like planting the flowers and growing my own fruit and veg. I work at Piccadilly Gardens for Fork to Fork. I really enjoy this, I get to do weeding, sweeping up leaves, and pottering around the gardens. I like the people I work with on a Friday. I enjoy it a lot but I also miss my old job in Wray at the Greenfoot Garden Centre.

I go to Kings on a Monday with my friends and go to bingo on Tuesday. I really enjoy going with Becky and Stuart. I like my room because I like my own space and I get some quiet time without Becky’s music. Sometimes she puts it on very loud and it can be frustrating especially when it’s Christmas music.

- Written by Rosie

MS’s Story

MS moved into his new home on the 11th April 2011. When asked where he lived before, MS said “I lived at home with mum”. Since moving into his own flat, MS has learnt new skills and has an active social life. He enjoys attending local events within the town and going to a local pub with his girlfriend.

MS now leads a healthy lifestyle and has lost 2 stone in 3 months by making healthier meal choices. He says: “My Staff support me to cook new meals that are healthy, they taste better than ready meals, I’ll try anything once!”

MS enjoys going to the gym. Every 2 months he has a review with his personal trainers who adapt his routine as his muscles strengthen. MS has made good progress and is getting stronger and healthier every day. He says: “I go to the gym twice a week, I use weight machines and the bike”.

MS plans to continue losing weight and has a target weight he hopes to achieve. He says: “I am happy that I have lost weight, it’s been easy”.

- Written by an NCG Support Worker

Stuart’s Story

My name is Stuart. At the age of 19 I moved into supported living. I was quite scared and nervous at the time as it was a new experience for me sharing a house and having support staff. Before this I lived with my mum in Lancaster. Staff were supportive and helped me to settle into my new home and make new friends, such as my house mates.

Over the past 9 years, I have gone on many holidays and trips with my housemates. We have visited Haven, Centre Parks, Benrigg and Turkey. We all had fun and did lots of different activities. On one trip I overcame my fears when I abseiled and participated in rock climbing. Rock climbing was very scary and I would not have been able to this without the support of my staff who encouraged me every step of the way. I feel that my staff have become like family to me, helping me to be independent and supporting me with my activities and hobbies.

I like the red arrows, trains, horse riding and aeroplanes. Staff have taken me to red arrow shows and have even helped me to secure a volunteer position at Carnforth Heritage Centre. I worked there for a long time and I enjoyed working in a place that is also one of my hobbies.

I have now enrolled at college where I study art, maths, English and cooking. I currently volunteer at a local food bank. I enjoy helping others and it has helped to build my social skills. I have also started horse riding lessons. I love horse riding as I find it relaxing and quite easy. I get to groom the horses afterwards and give them a carrot.

It can be frustrating living with other people but staff are always there for me talk to. I enjoy living next door to Kayleigh, Becky and Rosie. Sometimes we all have a day out together and go watch bands or go to the zoo. We have all booked to go and watch Little Mix in October and I cannot wait to see them!

- Written by Stuart

Rorie’s Story

Rorie moved into Church House in September 2012 with the intention of moving into his own flat one day. Between time spent working on his independent living skills, Rorie enjoys playing on his PS Vita and loves going on YouTube and Google Play. Rorie regularly speaks to people at both Sony and YouTube on the phone and via email to ensure he keeps up to date with any changes in their services.

Rorie is also very interested in politics. He was supported by Matt from the Endurance Care team to write a letter to Helen Whatley, an MP for Faversham and Mid Kent. Rorie wrote about the problems with operation stack on the M20 and invited Helen for tea and cake. She accepted the offer and they spent a wonderful afternoon together.

In August 2017, Rorie moved out of Church House and moved into his own flat in Maidstone. With the support of his new staff, he now lives a rewarding and independent life.

Rorie with Helen Whately (MP) back in 2016.

Rorie and Karen at the Kent Police open day in 2016.

- Written by an NCG Support Worker

Shane’s Story

Shane has been supported by the caring staff of Affinity Supporting People for a number of years now. He has many different interests and one of his main passions is DJing. Through an event organised by the BBC for people with learning disabilities, Shane attended a rave at the Textile Club in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. He was accompanied by one of his support workers. As Shane explains in the BBC Video, “he likes raving and he likes dancing”. The event was very well organised and Shane had a great time.

Following Shane’s appearance on the BBC programme, he then featured in the National Care Group newsletter. This newsletter is distributed to all NCG’s services across the UK and is available to both the staff and the people they support. To congratulate Shane on his achievement and to help further develop his passion, NCG presented him with a new set of decks and a high tech sound system. Shane says that he is often told off for his music being too loud, so we hope he keeps the noise down!

The National Care Group team surprise Shane with his own DJ mix set.

- Written by an NCG Support Worker