Life Story: Richard's Story

Circles Network first met Richard eighteen months ago and in that time his life has been transformed from a story of isolation and loneliness into one of inspiration and joy.

When Circles Network was first introduced to Richard he made it very clear that he hated meetings, reviews and social workers. He refused to comment when asked about how his life was going, preferring to let Brenda, his supportive mum, do the talking.

Richard spent most nights playing on his PlayStation and then all day in bed which worried Brenda who described her son’s situation as ‘stagnant and having no life’. Brenda was worried that Richard would never find a way to move on as he would not engage with anyone. Previously he had enjoyed a job at a pub for two hours a week through a local supported employment scheme but unfortunately the placement had broken down.

When asked if Richard was interested in a Circle of Support he said yes, but that he definitely did not want anyone in it! A relationship had to be built with Richard and Circles Network facilitator Caroline Garner felt the ideal opportunity, given his interest in modern music, was through a night club project that she was involved with. “I helped Richard get his name down for the six week DJ workshop. Richard made some friends at the workshop and on the last journey home he said to me, ‘I want to do what Paul does and go to the gym’.”

To help this become a reality, Caroline supported Richard to access Direct Payments and gain the support of a personal assistant and, after a small battle, Richard was able to hire Steve.

This led to Richard making the most out of gym sessions and the beginning of some sustainable relationships with people he met there. His spirits had lifted hugely by now and he took Steve on for three days a week to pursue a range of interests. He started to show a distinct liking for the outdoor life, he took up horse riding and gardening and enjoyed getting out to local farms and places of interest.

Now he had the hang of Direct Payments, Richard and the small Circle of Support he had developed around him by then, decided to give up his place at a local “respite care” facility and take on another PA (also called Steve) to support him at weekends at the family’s caravan in Skegness.

Employment came next and through a connection of Caroline’s, Richard gained a trial placement with the Estate Manager of a nearby stately home for a grounds man position. Through his own determination, he showed how capable and strong he is and is now working there officially for two days a week. He even has his own set of keys to the tractor he operates. Brenda is overjoyed and is the first to acknowledge Richard’s new found confidence and conversational skills. His dad is also incredibly proud of Richard’s success and both parents agree that, “this has been the making of him and them”.

“Richard has made Wednesdays and Thursdays the best days of the week because we all look forward to working with him”. Work Colleague

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