I was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (type 6) and because this causes loose, unstable joints that dislocate easily, I spent some of my childhood in a wheelchair and am now a full time wheelchair user.
I joined Enham Trust in 1993 when I was 22 years old and moved into Phipps House which offered 24 hour care. I was there for 3 and a half years and then moved into a shared bungalow at Weston Court on the Enham Trust Home Estate. This again gave 24 hour care. I lived here for another 6 and a half years and then on the 31st March 2003, I moved into Alex House. Here I had an L-shaped bedsit with my own kitchen and supported living rather than 24 hour care. I felt I had really started to progress with the help and services provided by Enham Trust.
I applied for one of the new bungalows that were being built on the Home Estate and on the 20th March 2015, I was delighted to move into my own house on the new Weston Court development. This has more space than I had been used to previously and I am now completely independent. I have a lifeline alarm in case of emergency and I have someone that comes in to see me regularly and help me with my paperwork.
One of the criteria for moving to Enham Trust at the time was that you had to be unemployed and 2 years after moving in, I talked to a work placement advisor about trying to find some voluntary work. One of my friends was working at a preschool and really enjoyed it and suggested I tried it too. So I asked my work placement advisor at Enham Trust to look into this for me and she contacted local preschools for me.
It wasn’t long before I started at Moore Hall Preschool in Andover and then St Thomas’s Preschool in Charlton working with 5 or 6 other leaders to supervise and help with the play activity for the pre-schoolers. I was at these groups from December 1995 until July 2000.
I also joined Pippins Preschool in Appleshaw, a village just outside of Andover, and supervised the hand painting exercises with the preschool children there and helped to supervise the indoor and outdoor playtimes.
From 1996-2004 I was working 4-5 mornings a week at local preschools. I even did a 6 week and 16 week activity ‘Learning Through Play’ course through Harrow Way School. These took place during 1996 and 1999. The 16 week evening course included a chosen activity and I chose hand painting as my activity for St Thomas’s Preschool which was then assessed with me hand painting with children. These 2 courses gave me more knowledge and understanding to help me with working with children.
I then asked my work placement advisor at Enham Trust to look for a new opportunity for me and she contacted some local primary schools on my behalf. In 2004 I began voluntary work at both Balksbury Infant School and St John the Baptist Primary School in Andover. I was with St John the Baptist Primary School for a year and worked in with the reception children and I am still at Balksbury Infant School now, listening to readers in year 1 and 2.
With the help of Enham Trust, I also started working at Portway Junior School in September 2006.
I love listening to the children read, especially those that don’t always get a chance to read much at home. It’s great to see the improvement in the children over the weeks and months as their confidence improves. I now do part time voluntary work 4 afternoons a week between the 2 schools and Enham Trust take me and collect me each day.
When I was at the preschools, I was on the Andover and Hampshire Committees for Preschools and used to have regular committee meetings in Winchester. I started as Vice Chair and then became Chair. I really enjoy getting out and meeting new people and am very grateful to have had these opportunities.
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HRH The Duchess of Gloucester visits leading disability charity Enham Trust
HRH The Duchess of Gloucester has this week visited leading Hampshire-based disability charity Enham Trust.
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