I got involved with Focus (for my sins) in 2007. I was keen to have my say on how things should be done for everyone at Hansel. The National Involvement Network had just published “Let’s Get Involved” and Hansel’s “Having A Say” policy had just been written so there was lots to get involved with - I was going to be very busy....just the way I like it!
4 of us met with the Hansel Board of Directors in June 2010. It was the first time clients had gone to a Board Meeting. We showed a DVD we had made about our work at Hansel. I was nervous but so very proud for us all.
I was used to speaking on the microphone as I often speak at the network telling the audience what we were doing at Hansel. I felt nervous but I was proud and when Heartfelt came along to support us at Hansel, I knew I was going to enjoy it.
Hansel brought in Heartfelt to help get even more people involved. They worked with clients, staff, managers and the Board and showed that people with Learning Disabilities can make a real difference in the way organisations work for them.
We started with the ‘Big Say Day’ - It was good to talk about the work we had done well with Focus, to look at what was wrong with it and how we could make it better. Speaking up with confidence, showing others that it was fun and learning new ways to get the message across. We put what we had learned into practice with the Making it Happen presentation day to mark Learning Disability Week in 2011.
Then we did ‘Training With Attitude’ - we are the experts and we learned how to train the staff supporting us We learned that training could be done in a fun way and that it was up to us to show staff how to best support us to live OUR lives. I co-facilitated Adult Support and Protection training with South Ayrhsire Council and Heartfelt and I got paid for it which was great!
We set up Quality Checkers – groups of clients who, with support from staff, are going to make sure that Hansel Always provides a quality service. As a Quality Checker, I interviewed people who work along with Hansel to make sure we get the best support possible..... very important people like the Director ARC Scotland and the Head of Social Work for South Ayrshire.
The future for Focus, or should I say Compass will be very busy. With elections for new representatives from all the services and all the work involved to make Hansel better. It is very good...it just shows what people with a learning disability can do.