Tom's story

Since Yarrow started working with Tom, he has rediscovered his outgoing personality and confidence and he now manages his finances with ease and frequently visits cinemas, art galleries, the local college and, of course, friends.  

When he had an accident that resulted in a brain injury, Tom became depressed and introverted. Everyday activities like budgeting challenged him and at times, he felt so frustrated that he became verbally abusive. 

Today, he genuinely enjoys the company of others and socialising regularly as he did, when he was an actor, before his accident.

Henry's story

Henry, who is middle-aged, wants a job. The problem is he’s never been able to travel independently.  But after 10 years of being taken to a day centre every weekday, he’d had enough. When Yarrow took over his support he told them so. He said he wanted to work instead and get there on his own.

Henry worked with Yarrow to develop a training programme for himself that incorporated travel, money handling and work experience.  He has since made new friends and is an active member of the local community.  He now has the confidence to seek a paid job.

Terriā€™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.

Theo's story

Theo has now completed an album and embarked on a music course, and aims to become a professional songwriter and producer. Born in Nigeria, Theo's music is a mixture of African styles, rock, RnB and country music.  When he first joined The Gate, he was difficult to understand and it was not always clear what he was trying  to communicate.

Now he plays keyboards and  writes powerful, emotional songs about life, romance and  family. Theo  is renowned for his expressiveness while gigging and recording with Yarrow's band,the Rollmops.

Vanessa's story

Vanessa has a great talent for poetry, inspired by her uncle, who was a published poet.  Vanessa writes imaginative prose about valuing the independence she has fought for. 

Vanessa's first work, Small Wonders, was published by The Gate Publishing, which is keen to encourage other writers with learning disabilities to come forward.  Vanessa is now working on her first novel.

Faisal's story

Faisal joined the Moment by Moment Theatre Company, where his exceptional acting ability quickly became clear.  He took a major role in the production – ‘Dumped - the Musical’! – after which The Gate put him in touch with a national theatre company for people with learning disabilities, called Mind the Gap. Having been coached by The Gate’s team throughout the audition process, Faisal won a place on Mind the Gap’s national scheme.

Since then, he has taken part in training programmes run by accredited drama schools and appeared in productions including Animal Farm, performed at the Bradford Arts Festival.

Andrew's story

Andrew, who has a diagnosis of autism, has been enjoying multi-media art classes at The Gate since they began several years ago. However, he does not respond well to being asked to do the same as everyone else in the class, so the art tutor has worked flexibly with Andrew on an individual basis, enabling him to achieve some remarkable work, including a recent 5 ft sculpture of a man.  Andrew is proud of his newfound ability to express a personal and unique style.

Mal's story

Mal has been a movie fan for as long as he can remember. Video drama gives him the chance to emulate his heroes. In addition, it enables him to re-live and experience first-hand the stories he has grown up with, as well as contribute to a few of his own.

Sharon's story

Sharon revels in Drama and Movement Therapy because it’s one way in which she can express and give vent to her feelings.  She has spina bifida and doesn’t use speech to communicate.  Sharon comes home from the drama sessions relaxed, laughing and ready for a Guinness – either at her local pub or at home, where it’s chilling in her fridge.

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.’

Ashok's story

Ashok loves The Gate.  He feels it is a world away from traditional day centres, where his behaviour used to sometimes become challenging.  He particularly took to the way The Gate offered him a specific slot when it was at its quietest and the way they laid out a variety of stimuli in a welcoming space. Almost immediately, Ashok would get involved in whatever he gravitated towards – art, musical instruments, a relaxation space, a kitchen to prepare some food or an area to listen to music. He is now able to stay on when The Gate gets busier and to take part in group activities.