It’s taken a while for us to catch up because things have been non-stop busy for me.
I volunteer at Carmarthen People First on Mondays. I help with answering phones, photocopying, paperwork and making tea.
Gateway club with Mencap Ceredigion is on Tuesdays, and I also have a Maths tutoring session. I’m working towards a level 2 GCSE qualification because one day I’d like to work in health and social care. I need maths to go into the career I’d like. No date set for the exam yet. I’m just seeing how things go for now.
On Wednesdays I work at a charity shop, and in the evening there’s another Gateway Club in Newcastle Emlyn. I have to get a lift to Gateway because there are no public transport options.
Thursdays are chill days for me. I used to work an extra day at the charity shop, but someone else wanted to pick up a day, so I just do the one day there on a Wednesday now. Thursdays I have a nice sleep, watch tv and catch up with one of my favourite programmes Pobl y Cwm. Sometimes I do a bit of colouring.
On Fridays I go out with my PA. I get 5 hours support every week. We go for walks, bowling, cinema, anything really. In the evening go to Gateway Aberaeron. I can get the bus there independently but have to get a lift back because the buses don’t run in the evenings.
Saturdays are chill days too. I generally spend Saturdays with Mum, helping with chores, playing board games and going for walks with the dog.
On Sundays I sometimes meet up with a friend to walk her dog. The coastal path is beautiful.
I had a problem renewing my bus pass recently. It was very stressful! When I got on the bus, the driver said that my pass had been reported as lost or stolen and I couldn’t use it. The driver wouldn’t even let me on once while I checked the problem with my pass. I’d have been stuck if I didn’t have enough money on me. The return fare was £5.90 each way so not cheap.
I had no notice of the pass expiring, it just stopped working. Getting a new pass was a real stress. They wanted ID, which I don’t have. I don’t drive and can’t afford a passport. Mum had to get benefit letters and a doctor’s letter as proof that I’m eligible for a bust pass. The new pass came but it had been cancelled for some reason. What a mess!!
I had to borrow money for about 3 months for travel. You can imagine with travel most days being about £5.90 each way, the cost soon added up.
I’m worried about being able to vote the next time elections happen. If people need to take ID to the polling station, then I will be excluded because I don’t have any photo ID.
The All-Wales Strategy
I hope that we’ve come a long way since they brought the strategy in 40 years ago. I have personal experience of being held in a hospital and being restrained. I was depressed when I had no freedom being locked up there so I definitely wouldn’t wany to go back 40 years when lots of people with learning disabilities had no freedom. I’ve talked about my experience lately. All I’ll say it that I never want to go back there! It was terrible.
I think a lot more learning disability training is needed for staff working in mental health in-patient services. In all services actually.
(photo credit Natasha Hirst Photography)