Life is great, life is fantastic!
Active friendships and good relationships with the people around you are vital to anybody being able to enjoy a good life. Having a variety of people around you can make a big difference when times are good and when things can also get tough. As part of National Learning Disability Week 2016, we asked John what having a wide group of friends and many different relationships means to him.
… with my family
“I am the baby of the family, the youngest of 6. We are very close and get together regularly which I like because I remember mum and dad when we are all together. They support me in lots of different ways and make me feel very happy. They help me with things like my money and finances, especially now I am in a paid job. I am very proud of my family and what they all do. When I was unwell in hospital, they were always with me and I was really grateful for them being there. I was scared and confused about what happened, and they took time to make sure I understood everything.
My family mean everything to me. We laugh together and cry together, both happy and sad tears and without them it would be very tough for me.”
… with my friends
“I am lucky that I know a lot of people, some I have known for a long time and some who I haven’t known as long, including people with learning disabilities and without. It is fantastic having so many people around me, we do lots of things together. My friends with learning disabilities support each other a lot because we understand each other well. Some people know me by my disability or from having Down’s Syndrome, but my friends know me as a person which means a lot.
At my 50th birthday, 150 people were there – family, friends, colleagues, lots of people! It felt fantastic knowing that all of those people in the room were there for me and knowing that I have so many people around me makes me very happy. I am more confident when I have people to do things with. I like being around people, without my friends I’d be very sad and fed up. I wouldn’t do as much as I do now and would sit and twiddle my fingers all day. Without people around me I would be bored, bored, bored, bored, bored!”
… at work
“I am involved with lots of different things at work which is good because I like to work hard on different projects. My work is really important to me because it gives me a clear voice to speak on behalf of people with learning disabilities. I’ve met lots of new people and made lots of friends at work and it makes me feel proud to talk to them about my family and my friends. I feel respected by my colleagues and it makes me feel really important. People understand me at work, they understand how I work and push me to do new things and think of new ideas.
It is important for people to work, especially when people with learning disabilities are given the chance. It makes me feel the same as everyone else. I love my job, I have lots of fun doing it.”
… the people around me
“It is important to me that the people around me – family, friends, colleagues and others – get on and work together. I like things to be calm and relaxed otherwise, if people don’t get on, it makes me feel anxious and worried. I don’t like it. It is important that people talk to each other and talk to me, not just about me. When I went into hospital, my sisters didn’t find out straight away so I was upset and they were upset. When everyone talks to each other and gets on, things are much better for me.”
… anything else you would like to add John?
“For me, life is great, life is fantastic! I am busy and I feel welcomed wherever I go. I feel that people respect me and I know that I am helping people to respect others with learning disabilities as well, which makes me happy.”