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Choosing

By Jenny Evans
May 2007, Colwyn Bay
A digital story from Capture Wales

"I started life working in commerce, from office work and advertising, I eventually ran my own shop, but gradually, I became disenchanted.

A close friend introduced me to support work with adults with learning difficulties. The pay was low, but this time, the money wasn't the driving force. I was ready for a change. Most of the people I worked with had little, or no skills with reading, writing or maths, so I changed gear and became a basic skills tutor.

During my six years teaching, I discovered an exciting project with the potential to make a real difference to people's lives - person-centred planning. There are many different types of plans, but they all have the same goal - to help people to achieve their dreams, no matter how small or impossible they may seem.

I work as a facilitator for these plans, which are illustrated by a graphic. The whole process starts by the person who has requested the plan inviting a number of friends and associates along to a special day. Everyone is asked to help that person by literally signing up and accepting responsibility for making things happen.

The dream might be to travel in outer space, but more often, the goal is simply to have a place of one's own to live. It's truly amazing how the group is galvanised into helping the focus person. The pressure to rally round is far greater than in a one-to-one situation. I've really found my dream job.

This work is completely enchanting and has made me more tolerant and understanding. Choosing to help other people to make their own choices is what it's all about for me."

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am 60 years old and semi-retired. After working in sales for years, I became disillusioned and wanted a more rewarding job, helping people who weren't able to help themselves.

I started my new career eight years ago, first doing support work, then teaching basic skills one-to-one with adults with learning difficulties. Over the last two years, I've changed gear and now work in 'person-centred planning'.

What's your story about?
I work with adults with learning difficulties, based in the community. My main focus is to deliver 'person-centred plans' to help these people change their lives for the better. After a degree of preparation, a number of people in the focus person's circle of friends are invited to a planning meeting where they 'sign up' to help him/her achieve their dreams.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
I am passionate about giving disadvantaged adults a voice so that they are empowered to make choices about important, fundamental things in their lives that we take for granted - a nice place to live, a social life, a job, holidays etc.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
Where do I start?! It was all fantastic, the BBC crew were incredibly helpful, kind, talented, skilled and altruistic. I loved meeting the other story-tellers and hearing their stories. The diversity involved was so stimulating. Learning about the software and seeing stories come to life was amazing - a truly rewarding creative experience.

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