Diane’s story

Diane’s face lights up at the mention of a walk round the park or visiting the local café, shopping mall or leisure centre. She not only enjoys the exercise, but the socialising aspect too. Given that Diane, who does not use speech, had no desire to go anywhere and had a weight problem, this is a huge achievement.

Helping her on this journey has been Yarrow’s healthy living plan, coupled with multimedia profiling. The profile – which contains computer images of some of Diane’s activities, as well as potential new activities – means she now makes personal choices about everyday life. Most recently, she used it to get involved in booking holidays in Lyme Regis and Hastings.

Alana's story

Recently, Alana has started to travel independently for the first time, using her mobile phone to keep in touch with staff. She particularly likes visiting the library and stopping for a drink at her favourite café.

Previously, Alana lived in institutionalised care, where she only participated in group activities. Today, she has her own flat, which she takes pride in keeping clean and tidy and where she loves cooking her own meals - skills that she has enjoyed learning.

Terri’s story

Terri regularly attends Metropolitan Police training and Yarrow’s Literacy Project, run by a specialist tutor at The Gate. Just six months previously, Terri would not have thought this possible. She had a succession of failed placements, largely due to her tendency to self-harm.  Terri discovered, with Yarrow’s help, that her low self-esteem and anxiety was set off by particular triggers, not least the constant moves.

These days, Terri’s intellectual capability and eloquence have shone through as Yarrow staff recognise the triggers and work to avoid them.  Terri’s greatest wish is to have a flat of her own and now she has a real chance of achieving this goal.

Sue's story

Sue is currently working on a book of poems that have proved an excellent outlet for her thoughts and feelings and which she says help reduce her anxieties. In the past, Sue relied wholly on medication to manage her anxiety.

Sue wanted to move from the parental home into a supported living scheme, so she worked with Yarrow to make the transition – a transition that included gaining skills in areas such as paying bills, navigating London transport and managing her moods. When Sue made the move, it wasn’t without problems – the increased periods of isolation affected her anxiety, but together with her support staff, she is finding ways to deal with it and is enjoying her newfound independence. Sue no longer needs medication.

Marcus's story

Since Marcus started working at McDonald’s, he has been repeatedly promoted, moving from an ordinary crew member up to customer care assistant – a role in which he inducts new staff members. 

Marcus is such a highly valued member of staff at McDonald’s that a short article appeared about him in McDonald’s magazine. ‘I love everything about my job – working with other staff members and my manager, serving customers and making them happy – Oh and eating the food!’ he says. Marcus’s manager describes him as a ‘role model.’

Ed's story

Ed lives independently, but he tends to stay away from community centres both due to lack of confidence and the fact that he has never found anything to his taste. He decided to give the “Me and My Community” session a go because it was relevant to his situation and because he hoped to meet like-minded people. He quickly became involved in discussions and his confidence markedly improved. Ed is now considering becoming involved in some of the arts projects at The Gate to satisfy his interest in technology and production.

Don's story

Don moved into a Yarrow Independent Living scheme in Hillingdon, so he thought he would try The Gate.  He decided to learn how to get there independently.  He checks with support staff that he has his Freedom pass and mobile phone charged before he sets off and so he can receive regular phone calls to check he is OK. 

Don now travels everywhere on his own.  ‘I enjoy The Gate because of the staff and other people who go to Behind the Headlines’ he says. ‘It’s fun.’