Ben lives in Wiltshire and has been supported by Mencap to live independently. In this blog he shares his story of moving into his first home.
Before I moved into my own home I lived with my mum. I can remember my social worker and mum talking to me about one day having a place of my own and becoming more independent. I love my mum see, and I thought she might want to have a life of her own and have time to do the things she wants to do.
I started to think what it would be like. I could do stuff I’ve never done before like walk into town by myself, deal with bills, and all that stuff. It would be nice to do things for myself. It was an excitable feeling, but really I was quite worried about it because I didn’t really deal with stuff like that. I talked to my dad about it and he said ‘It’ll be alright Ben. You’ll be your own man’.
On the last day of being with my mum I was a bit upset. I kept cuddling her. I was giving in my key – that feeling was not good really. I had a lump in my throat. Mum kept asking ‘Are you sure you can do this?’ I think mum found it hard too, a little bit. I said: ‘no, I’m going to do it’.
I can remember the day I moved in. Kate, my support worker, was there. Dad and Mum and my friend Pete helped me. I brought my things with me, like my DVD collection. Crikey, I can’t count how many DVDs I’ve got. I could open a DVD shop!
The first night I went to bed all by myself, and I just lay in bed awake for a long time. I was thinking of mum and the way it’s going to be now. I was thinking to myself ‘Am I going to like this?’ I’m a thinker you see. I do worry quite a bit. I know I’ve got to be a bit more laid back about things. I’m not very good with change, really.
But I think to myself ‘There’s ways of dealing with things properly’. I’m not half as bad as I used to be. I’m getting there. I told myself ‘Sort your self out, Ben. You are going to like this because this is who I am now’. I think I went to sleep at that point.
I think it turned out all right. My support worker helps me if I get something in the post to help me to read it. We do stuff and it’s nice to have someone there just in case.
Now I can cook a good lasagne, a toad in the hole, and fish pie. I remember when I finally got to cook a spaghetti bolognese myself. I phoned Pete to tell him. He said ‘Was it as good as mine?’ I said ‘Hmmm, I think it is, yes’. He laughed. I pictured his face, thinking ‘Ben is getting independent now’.
It feels quite good when it’s just the two of us with no staff here. We get together and enjoy a good DVD.
Now I am learning to catch a bus to visit mum when I want and I’ve just started getting the bus back on my own. When I do stuff like that it makes me feel good. I’m going out to play skittles and making some new friends. I’m quite good at skittles. Last time I beat my best score. I like the feeling that I can go to the bar and get a coke or lager shandy, and a sneaky packet of crisps.
I enjoy going with my best mate to the cinema, having a meal, and going clothes shopping. I like Animal, Fat Face, Bench and all that stuff. I think it’s because I like fashionable clothes. I’m dreadful spending money on clothes, I am.
It makes me feeling good to think of all the things I’ve learned and the stuff I’m achieving. I would say to people definitely go for it, because it’s really good. The best thing is just being myself, keeping my mind on all the things I’m learning and stop myself worrying. I think my life is fantastic now. The thing with me is I’m quite independent, so in my dreams I think I can get better.
Have you been inspired by Ben’s story of his first home? Learning Disability Today is supporting Mencap’s Learning Disability Week, which is inviting people with a learning disability to share stories of their incredible first times. For more information on how to get involved with Learning Disability Week or how to share your own story head here: Learning Disability Week.