I am a very enthusiastic young woman. I love singing and music, particularly Country & Western – I’m a big fan of Tammy Wynette and Lady Antebellum. I also love my pets. We recently got a Bearded Collie pup called Fergus – I think he’s great but Leo the cat doesn’t agree!
I have a radio show on 3TFM - Gemma’s Glamorous Goodies. I record it on Monday afternoons and it’s on air on Wednesday evenings 9-10pm on 103.1FM. I play a mix of music types and there’s a bit of chat from me.
I started with Hansel’s Fairway Project in 2003. That project is finished now but I still see the friends I made back then – we share some Day Service supports and go bowling or to dinner or whatever. I often use my 1:1 supports to go shopping and search out new Country & Western music – bands like The Shires. I also use the Cabin for respite.
I wanted to get more involved at Hansel and help other people who use services – I want to show everyone what we can achieve. I had gone along to a Focus Group meeting with Fairway but that was a long time ago. Then, in 2011, Heartfelt were brought in to do training with us and with staff – to help more people get involved and do it better.
We had to make up names for the groups we were working in – I came up with Team Awesome – the coolest name of all! There were people there from across Hansel so we got to know lots of new people. The icebreakers were really fun.
One of the things that came from this training was Quality Checkers. We look at quality at Hansel to make sure jobs are being done properly. We are also there to help people with any questions or problems they may have about their service.
In 2011 we put on ‘Hansel’s Got Talent’ for Learning Disability Week. We worked with David Douglas of Heartfelt on that but in 2012 we did it ourselves!
I spoke about myself and my condition. I have hydrocephalous and have 3 stunts and catheters to drain the excess fluid. I can hear them working at night which is reassuring but I don’t think about my condition too much because I know life is worth living. And I spoke about my work with the Quality Checkers.
We re-booted the Focus Group at that event. We needed a change – Focus was a bit old fashioned. Compass, the name that was chosen, shows that we, the people using the services, are showing Hansel the way – the way we want our services delivered. My involvement with the Compass network is giving me more confidence to speak up – not just for myself but for other young individuals.
We wanted to have a voice at Service Manager’s meetings – to make sure the managers know what the people who use the services want – and now that is going to happen. There is a lot of work to be done but I’m happy to be doing it – it will make things better for everyone.
We now put on the Festival of Living each year and I’ll be singing at this year’s event.