AJ’s story

"I feel I know everybody and everybody knows me. I have my own space and I can be independent. I like being involved in the activities and everything going on at St Helena as I can be with my friends. I’m always invited and included in any activities or day trips out with the others. It’s fun and it makes me feel good to be included."

Ashleigh (‘AJ’) Jones, 29, has autism and has been living in Sandown-based St Helena, a supported living schemes for customers with learning disabilities, since May 2017.

AJ explains why he decided to move to St Helena: “I’d reached a point in my life where I started to feel a bit enclosed and too reliant on others to do the things I wanted to do. I wanted this to change so I could have the opportunities to develop more independent skills and have more control over my life.”

When AJ first moved out of his family home, he found the transition intimidating, but chose to see his new life as ultimately exciting and a chance to live the way he couldn’t when he lived at home with his family. He says: “I chose St Helena because it felt like a good place to be and I wanted to be able to do the things I want to do freely. The decision to move here was exciting but a bit daunting. In the beginning it was scary, worrying and emotional, but, in a way, exciting. Since I’ve been at St Helena, my life has changed a lot. I have the freedom to make my own routines and time to relax by myself ’s when I want. I can cook for myself, I can keep my flat clean and tidy, I know how to change my bed, budget my money, and get dressed by myself.”

It’s clear AJ’s decision to move to St Helena has been a rewarding and positive one for him. With support, he’s working hard to meet the goals he has set himself and is well on his way to becoming happier and more self-reliant. Emma Davidson is the care and support team leader based at St Helena and is extremely proud with AJ and the work he’s done so far. She’s mindful of the challenges his autism presents and the support he needs to meet these challenges. She says: “AJ’s autism means he sometimes struggles to understand social norms. Part of the support we offer is to help him develop the skills he needs to understand and manage social situations, and manage his own behaviour more effectively. This includes recognising areas for improvements and developing self-sufficient skills so he can achieve his goal of being able to go out in the community safely and independently.”

AJ feels much more independent since moving into supported housing. He enjoys the little thing like planning meals and the freedom to choose what he wants to eat each night.

“I’ve made many friends here and I have good relationships with the staff. I feel like I’m living my life the way I want to live, and I wouldn’t want that to ever change. St Helena is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I really love my life here. I’m very happy.”

Help raise awareness

Thousands of people have gained their independence through supported housing. The Starts at Home campaign aims to ensure that people who need extra support will always have a home that meets their needs.

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