My name is Marion; I am a friendly and caring women with a great sense of humour! I am an older lady with a learning disability. I have lived in a residential home for many years. I have good understanding of things, but need support with communication as people sometimes have difficulty understanding me.

All of my friends live with me or they are staff that work with me. I had no connections with my community. I have always liked to be busy and go out a lot and staff have always supported this. I enjoyed the activities I was doing, but I never met new friends or people who lived near me.

In 2016 my staff completed some work with Changing our Lives to help them understand what an ordinary life looks like and how they can enable me and the people I live with to achieve this. This work included looking at what connections I had in the community by using a tool called a ‘Community Map’. This identified what I enjoy doing, where I go and what outcomes I want to achieve. The map also looked at how many people I know in my community through the things that I do with staff. I had no connections.

Changing Our Lives also completed this exercise with my staff to show what their lives looked like compared to mine and the people that I live with. Their lives were full and they had a lot more people in their lives than I had. So my mission began!

I had always enjoyed going to church but had not been for a long time. Staff asked me if I would like to go back to church and I said yes. I started to go each Sunday.

The staff team were very supportive and passionate about encouraging my connections within the community. As the weeks went by, I became friends with a lot of people and a closer friendship began with Ann, who I meet on Wednesday coffee mornings at the church. My new friends at church make me feel welcome and a part of them. They support me throughout the services, like when it’s time to take communion and they class themselves as my friends.

When staff have been out about in their own time they have bumped into people from church, who ask of me and how I am. The other Sunday after church there was a meal arranged for people from church and the local community to celebrate ‘Town in Bloom’. I was asked if I would like to go and I did by myself. I did not need a member of staff I stayed with my friends from church I felt happy, safe and good. 

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