Friendship Really Matters: Getting the most out of life by reaching out to others

Livability’s Lifestyle Choices service supports 200 people across the UK to make stronger links with their community. Read how Nick is reaching out to others in his home city of Gloucester, backed by flexible support from Livability.

nick-gloucester-tagGetting the most out of life – and making sure others do too – is how Nick describes his life. Nick, who has a learning disability, lives in Gloucester, supported by Livability Lifestyle Choices West (LLCW), which enables service users to increase their independence and connect with others in their community.

Nick prizes his independence, which he has built up over the time he has been supported by Lifestyle Choices. “I love being in charge of my own life and I go out a lot,” says Nick. “I like to go to Open Doors every Tuesday to meet my friends.”

Helping those who need support in the community

As well as keeping up friendships, Nick connects with others locally by serving as a housing advocate with Gloucestershire County Council. “I want other disabled people to enjoy where they live,” Nick explains. “So I go to help inspectors from Gloucester Council when they visit disabled tenants to make sure they’re coping ok. I support the tenant so they are sure their choices and opinions are being heard properly.”

This work came about through another of Nick’s links, this time with a local disability group: “I think it’s very important that your voice is heard if you’re disabled. That’s why I help with Gloucester Voices. Gloucester Voices is a group for disabled people like me, where we make sure that the council knows about the things that are important to us.”

Safeguarding is an issue Nick feels strongly about, as a disabled person, and he has used this concern as a platform to help others: “I helped to make a film about safeguarding with some other people from Gloucester Voices. We did this to help people with learning disabilities understand the choices they can make about relationships and sex.”

Developing the skills to become more independent

Nick’s social and civic life is underpinned by the person-centred care he receives from Lifestyle Choices support staff, who enable everyone they serve to develop their skills, aspirations and community connections. “I live in a shared flat where Lifestyle Choices supports me to live independently,” Nick says. “This year I’ve needed less help every week from carers because I’ve become more independent. I can do most things for myself now, like organise my meetings with Gloucester County Council during the week and I’ve learned to manage my medication more independently. I’m proud I can do this.”

Working as flexibly as possible, rather than only offering support at fixed hours, means the service has helped to enhance Nick’s quality of life. “Nick gets his care and support early in the morning, allowing him the rest of the day to do what he wants to,” says LLCW deputy manager Angela Roseblade. “Nick likes his structured day, and he has become more independent and more aware of what facilities are on offer within the community. Nick has also become more focused and more expressive.”

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