A is still ‘mind blown’ that their Key Worker and #Focus5 could do this for them

A was referred to the project looking to progress towards education, employment or training but due to their chronic anxiety, PTSD, autism and chronic pain this would need to be managed in small steps.

A is very keen to learn and very active with their special interests- through these their Key Worker was able to explore different opportunities with them for employment and training that take their physical limitations into account. They looked at different options for getting into voice acting (as A has performing arts qualifications and their Key Worker has done voice acting work) and explored lots of different routes for selling their own digital art online, as well as sourcing free courses and learning to help A to develop their digital art skills further.

A is keen on volunteering/work experience to build up to work or education, ideally at the National Marine Aquarium as this is a special interest of A and they feel safe in this space. Due to A’s conditions, they walk using a cane and have to plan and pace activities to ensure they are physically capable of doing things.

The biggest barrier A was facing was their mobility, they had only recently started going out in public again. A and their Key Worker looked at volunteering opportunities at the National Marine Aquarium and put together an application, but they didn’t want to send it in yet as they were not confident that they would be able to physically manage it.

A had a very frank conversation with their Key Worker about why they don’t go out much and what their concerns are. A was very isolated due to the fear of their body giving out on them and having to be carried and collected by mum to go home, which is huge and very likely. It had happened previously and is hugely embarrassing and humiliating. They so very much want to be more independent, but this was a massive barrier stopping them from moving forward. They spoke about what more they could do if they had a lightweight/self-propel wheelchair but didn’t know how to go about getting one.

A and their Key Worker looked into this and found different options: through the NHS, and grants from various mobility charities but they are subject to 3-12 months lead time with lots of appointments and reports/assessments/healthcare statements.  Key Worker supported A going through the process of GP referral, social prescriber and NHS Mobility but found it took over a month to even be signposted to who to contact.  So we looked into whether we could provide this for them through #Focus5…

… We could, and we did!

A is still ‘mind blown’ that their Key Worker and #Focus5 could do this for them. They said:

“The impact of having a wheelchair will be massive and really change my life for so many reasons: It won’t eat up all my energy to go places and do things so I can do more, I won’t be trapped at home. I have 3 times less energy and chronic pain due to my conditions so eliminating half the energy spent walking and getting places would allow me to feel better and do more.

I will be able to go and volunteer, I can focus on engaging with aquarium visitors rather than mitigating pain and fatigue symptoms from my medical conditions as well as that, I will be able to be more engaged in what I am doing!

Normally I have to plan my schedule and activities carefully, 3 days in advance for any social activities outside the house so I can rest and prepare beforehand. I also have to limit the time I spend doing these activities because the pain and fatigue take over and I have to go home and rest. By having a wheelchair, I will be able to socialise like a normal person, accept last minute invites and be able to go out unexpectedly when required as I will not have to plan my energy expenditure for the days ahead as the chair will eliminate some of the energy I require to do things.

I want to go to university which, before having a wheelchair wouldn’t be impossible. I will not have to worry about moving around campus and my pain levels like I would have to if I didn’t have a wheelchair.

I will be able to run last minute errands like go to the shop for milk if I haven’t got any, rather than have to do without until my mum gets home or someone else can go for me. I will be able to take care of myself more with this wheelchair – it will give me some independence- I will not be scared of my body giving out and I will be able to do far more for myself which will make me feel really good!”

A and their Key Worker are now able to send in that volunteering application and start looking at university options!

#Focus5 is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund