When Angela was asked about her dreams and goals for the year, as part of her personal care plan, she told Livability staff she wanted to be a model. Angela lives at a residential service for disabled adults in Conwy and is an active member of Livability’s day service in the town. Her work week includes upcycling furniture for a charity shop, plus getting fit with zumba. Modelling was something she had always wanted to do, so Livability looked into how Angela could make this happen.
Livability manager Frances Adams made contact with a local business network – who said they had an opportunity for Angela. Models were needed for a charity fashion show. Angela grasped the opportunity and, with support from her day service, began to learn the skills she needed.
Livability Birchwood set up a mock catwalk and music to walk to, with an audience of Angela’s friends. ‘I practised for a long time how to walk like a model,’ says Angela. ‘I learned to keep my head up and look straight ahead and to have a smile and to do the turns. I practised for months!’
Come the big day, Angela smashed it. She modelled several outfits and loved the experience: ‘It felt great being a model. I wasn’t nervous. I liked having my photograph taken and I was jumping for joy afterwards. I lifted my arms and shouted, “I can do it!”’
Her success led to Angela being booked for a second show a month later. ‘Angela did a great job and followed all the instructions,’ says organiser Debra Sima of Air Ambulance. ‘She had the best applause from the audience, and many congratulated her at the end, telling her what a great job she had done. I would definitely book her again – her personality lifted the room. She was committed to doing a great job and showcased the clothes beautifully.’
For Angela, modelling clothes has been a dream come true – but she is now modelling much more than that. Being given opportunity and appropriate support means Angela can showcase the difference that greater confidence, fulfilment and sense of achievement can make to a disabled person’s life.
Creating an inclusive event like this means everyone benefits, says day service team leader Iris Barlow: ‘Disabled people experience many knocks. We’re still overcoming ignorance and barriers. But a community really loses out when suitable opportunities aren’t given to people with learning disabilities; they lose out on how gifted our clients are.’
Angela sums up her achievement: ‘It was my idea to be a model. I feel pleased to have done it and got it right. My mum is proud of me and has got a photo.’ She wants other disabled people to overcome barriers which too often can get in the way: ‘If someone else wanted to follow their dream I would say it’s your decision. It’s your choice. Go and do it.’