This blog is from Tony and Philipa.
My name is Tony.I am slightly schizophrenic and I have a learning disability. I am intelligent. I have been a volunteer at CHANGE for 5 years this September.It’s brilliant and inspiring. I am an illustrator.
I’m going to tell you about what happened when we went to the NHS Expo in Manchester. I am a Christian man and I wanted to check out some churches while I was in Manchester but I couldn’t find any. I didn’t let anyone from CHANGE know but I used my own disgresion by asking questions to people so I could find a Christian bookshop. I ended up in Salford.I was lost. I went into a Buddhist cafe and asked them to ring Phil as I had her phone number. When I was lost I felt sad but I was patient waiting for them to ring Phil.
When Phil came I hugged her because I was glad to see her. She came to my rescue!! Phil was concerned and worried about me. Other people at CHANGE were worried too because I was lost. We went back to our hotel we talked about it and Phil said that ‘We’re going to keep an eye on you because you might get lost again’. I accepted this. Next time I will tell someone where I am going. I want Phil to keep reminding me not to go off next time as my short term memory is shocking. I feel it’s funny when I look back on it!
I made a mistake and we all need to learn from this. Some of the other people with learning disabilities at CHANGE said that in their experience if this happened in other settings they would get told off and not be allowed to go to things again.
Philipa: Where does supporting and allowing people to take risks and make mistakes support rights and where does it take away rights? My fear was that Tony would do the same again, inside I wanted to not let him sleep in a hotel room on his own in case he got up in the night and wandered off. I think of my own life and the risks that I have taken, hitchhiked abroad, lost my money in Amsterdam, I could go on….I’m sure that we all could! Then I think of the risks I’ve taken that have helped me learn, make mistakes and grow. So often we use our fears and anxiety to control the lives of people with learning disabilities, it’s scary letting go. The learning needs to be on both sides, ours and people with learning disabilities, as Tony says:
Next time I’m determined to let people know where I am. I want to forget it and knock it on the head. I feel good!