Inclusion is 'we are one big family'

We’ve asked Debbie to help us celebrate Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week, 21-27 March, with her thoughts and experience of inclusion – and exclusion. Debbie is supported in living independently by Livability Sussex, where she is part of a lively group of tenants.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Deborah, and I like to be called Debbie. I am 39 years old and will be celebrating my 40th birthday this summer. I was born in Norway and came to England when I was four years old. I have a dad, mum, two brothers and one sister, four nephews and two nieces.

What does inclusion mean to you?

Being included is so important, as no matter what colour or sex you are, or disability you have, you should be included as we are one big family. It helps to be included as it gives me confidence, makes me happy and feel good. It’s not a nice feeling to be left out.

Have you experienced exclusion and how does that feel?

When I was younger and at school, I was bullied due to being different to others as I have Down’s. This made me feel that I was left out due to being different and it was very upsetting.

Tell us how inclusion looks in your everyday life

I enjoy making new friends and the staff who support me are like my Livability family. I do lots in my local community. I have paid work two days a week in my local McDonalds as a customer assistant and won an award for the most customer feedback surveys in a month. I enjoy St John’s Ambulance volunteering and have been with them for 14 years – I’m a qualified first aider and a fundraiser volunteer. I also enjoy singing with others and acting, shopping, coffee shops, restaurants and church. I have a lovely housemate and have made a new friend from the flat next door.

What’s next for you?

I haven’t been able to see my best friend Lucy since 2019 due to Covid. But she’s going to have a birthday meal and I am being driven there by her brother [who is the pop star] Rag and Bone Man. This has made me feel included and happy!


Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week

Take a look at the campaign for the week #DownsSyndromeAwarenessWeek and see what activities and conversations are taking place >

Your resources