Stephen, 56 years old, has learning disabilities and had lived with his family all his life. He moved to East Thames’ Mayfair Avenue scheme in Ilford eight years ago.
When Stephen first arrived he wasn’t able to travel on his own. He says: “I would get lost and get very confused. I couldn’t remember which house was mine. But my support worker Edna helped me to understand how to get the bus. She came with me on trips for several weeks and now I can travel on my own. Recently I walked to the bus stop but I’d forgotten my Oyster Card. I didn’t panic – I crossed the road to go to the station and bought a new Oyster Card so I could get the bus.”
East Thames is committed to person-centred care tailored to the needs and aspirations of every resident. The role of support workers at the schemes is to listen to what each resident wants out of life and help them to make it happen – whether it’s learning a new skill, gaining employment, accessing arts and culture or holidays away. When Stephen decided that he would like to volunteer in a shop, his support workers helped him to find the right place. He went for an interview at a Cancer Research UK charity shop in Ilford and was delighted when he got the job. Support workers helped Stephen through the interview process and his first few shifts while he got to know the staff and customers. Stephen says: “I really enjoy it. I greet people when they come in and sort out the clothes.”
Now Stephen volunteers at the shop one day a week and then travels to a day centre where he’s learning to DJ. He also visits a different museum in London of his choosing every Saturday. This year residents and staff at Mayfair Avenue have also organised trips to the theatre, Ascot and Blackpool and are soon heading off to Cork in Ireland. Stephen’s mum Hilda says: “The staff at the scheme are wonderful – that’s why all the residents are so happy.”