Julia Brooker became a dedicated supporter of Livability after she experienced firsthand the difference that specialised equipment and respite care can make to people with disabilities and their families. As a passionate advocate for inclusive churches and communities, Mrs Brooker decided to leave a gift to Livability in her Will.
‘I’m a retired occupational therapist and I’ve worked with people with disabilities and their carers for many years. Several years ago, my husband and I were thinking about making new Wills. We felt so blessed with five healthy children and wanted to give back.
‘I know personally how much special places and equipment can mean to people with disabilities, and their families and carers. Not only in specialist centres, but also in the home. For instance, just the smallest piece of equipment which can enable a child to feed itself when they are hungry instead of that food being spooned in, can make a tremendous difference to quality of life.’
Having seen the impact of disability on families for many years, Julia cares deeply about including people with disabilities in their community. Recently, she and her husband visited Livability’s Holton Lee, where they saw personally the difference that a gift to our work can make:
‘Visiting Holton Lee was amazing. It was totally focussed on need and on developing the skills of people attending. They made sure that people could enjoy friendships, self-confidence, increasing their wellbeing … it just catered for everybody. It made a huge impression on us.
‘The whole ethos of Livability is about enabling people to be included in society – and that aligns itself with our ethos. We are ‘people’ people, we want everyone with disabilities to be included.’
Making sure people are included has always been a part of Julia’s life, and she still makes an effort to catch up with the parents and families she worked alongside throughout her career. Speaking about her connection to Livability, Julia said: ‘Livability is a good match for us. People need to be included. It’s not frightening. Let’s include them and give them a seat beside us. Showing by example is tremendously important. You include them – you visit people, you take them out for a meal. Include them in your family. It doesn’t cost the earth.’
Julia hopes that her gift will enable the inclusive nature of Livability’s work to continue well into the future and that the emphasis on wellbeing will continue to help people through her gift: ‘To have respite is so important. It’s important for the person concerned to get the support they need, but also so necessary for carers. Respite means that freshness is brought to a relationship which is stressed. I would like that ethos to continue through our gift.’
And her message to others considering leaving a gift? ‘Just do it. Get involved!’