Life Story: Jonathanís Transition Story

Jonathan is a young man who was supported through CREDO to plan for what he was going to do after leaving school.

When the project facilitator first met with Jonathan he had one year left before he was due to leave the special school that he had been attending for the past eight years. In that time he had been very fortunate to have been supported by the same educational support worker who was keen to assist with planning for Jonathan’s post-school opportunities. It was apparent that it was important for Jonathan to continue learning as he had an acquired brain injury and was continuing to relearn many skills.

The project facilitator was first put in touch with Jonathan’s mother by his social worker who was keen to ensure that all possible options were considered for Jonathan and that his ‘voice’ was truly heard by those who were responsible for commissioning and providing the support services that he needs to live his life.    

The facilitator worked with Jonathan to develop a Person Centred Plan that reflected Jonathan’s true needs and wishes with no bias towards any one agency and not restricted by a known budget or current services. Working in collaboration with the young person the facilitator was able to encourage others to think widely without putting up any barriers.

Relationship mapping helped Jonathan’s to see relationships with all the different people involved in his life, his true ‘allies’ were identified and invited to come together and help support him plan his future. This Circle of Support was small and included Jonathan, Jonathan’s mother, father, sister, educational support worker and his key worker at his residential home. Over a number of weeks the group put together a picture of what Jonathan’s ideal home would look like and what his ideal support package would be, an outline of his perfect day, his unique communication system and how to assist Jonathan when he becomes stressed and upset. We also focussed on what Jonathan’s dreams and nightmares were and from all of the information gathered, completed a PATH that was an action plan of what people needed to do in order to assist Jonathan to reach his outlined goals for a year’s time.

As we were ‘using’ people who were committed to Jonathan, each member of the group signed up to certain tasks such as; contacting the speech and language therapist, searching for possible new accommodation and to contact a previous worker to enlist him in to the ‘Circle’. Jonathan’s parents realised the strength and potential power that the Circle could have for Jonathan and so decided to commit to meeting regularly to ensure that the goals and the plan as a whole kept on track.

Jonathan’s Circle meetings took place with the facilitator every 6 weeks, along the way, there have been new recruits to Jonathan’s Circle including Simon, a family friend who is the same age as Jonathan and who takes responsibility for thinking of and going to different places with him (a non-disabled peer who brings a 20 year old’s thinking and vision in to the equation). Circles Network specialises in befriending and peer mentorship and can support young people taking this role in a Circle of Support.

Jonathan’s Circle of Support has grown and has assisted him to achieve goals that were relevant to him as a unique individual rather than to young disabled people as a whole. Each Circle member brings with them their own unique gifts and skills that enable them to support Jonathan along his journey to adulthood and further to a meaningful life. He is becoming more included within his community and is accessing activities within local groups, visiting McDonalds with Simon and taking a friend’s dog for walks.

At the time that we were introduced to Circles Network, our son Jonathan was several months away from two significant changes in his life: leaving school (with all of the support structure that this had given him over the years) and leaving his supported accommodation.

As his parents we were very concerned as to how Jonathan would cope with these huge changes because he had previously been adversely affected by even minor changes to his routine. So, it was a stressful time for us all.

By creating a Circle for Jonathan we were able to plan a smooth integration for him, using techniques which focussed on his long term desires and dreams rather than his perceived limitations or problems. It was a liberating experience, the outcome of which was of real value in our being able to liaise powerfully with a range of professionals who were involved in planning Jonathan's future, including Health, Social Services, Education, Speech Therapists, carers and the providers of residential care.

We would strongly recommend this process to anybody facing a similar situation. Amongst other things it reminded us of the great gifts Jonathan has; gave us an enhanced sense of optimism and produced a practical way forward’.

Olwen & Rob Garner

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