I had a job for a little while but I find outside work difficult. I don't think they understand really. I've had so much trouble with them I said I wouldn't work again. I just said I wouldn't do it again, I won't work, so I haven't worked since. I'm quite happy doing what I do.
At Isabel's there was too many to learn. I've learnt to do quite a lot with Isabel because of the cooking and that but I think because there's so many you don't get enough attention. It's just you might as well be back in the hospital. I think the smaller places are much better because I think the carer can help a bit more and she can teach you to do the things that you want, you should be able to do.
I can't fill in the forms yet. Mind you I'm going to the class and they're teaching me. I never learnt to read or write but I'm learning now. I think they should take people who've got learning difficulties in the proper school. I think they are starting to do that now.
I think being in a group teaches you you've got to learn to say what you want to say and not what everybody else wants you to say. The others feel the same. We've stopped the children, for starts. We've stopped them calling us names, the children don't do it so much. They used to call us horrible names, some of the names you would never dream of. They stopped it, even in Purley, and the teachers go with them now.
There's a little Down's syndrome boy, he comes off the bus to go home because he lives in Purley. And the children would not leave him alone, they used to tease him and everything, and he used to sit on the floor. They called him names, and they squirted water out of the window at me a few times and threw tins but they don't do it anymore. That's because I told Keith and he said, "Well, we'll write to the schools".
It stops the children but then you don't stop the adults because they never learn. One Saturday I was with one of my friends and one of the women was so rude my friend was really shocked. This woman said, "Bloody well get out of the way!" My friend was really shocked. It really did upset her because she said, "You know, you have told me about it, that people are rude but I had to believe it to listen to it". She had said, "I'll come with you just to find out, to see what it's like". And she said, "It's damn disgusting that people ought to be allowed to do that".
I'm more confident since I've been in the People First group. You do what you want to do and not get anybody else to do something for you. I was chairperson for quite a long time, but it's just the same as anybody else. You just help the people what can't do it for themselves.
It's hard for the ones what live out on their own mostly, the ones what have the flats. They do miss out. I think they get a bit frightened. Living out in the community, a lot of it, even for me, was new when I first started, so how must they feel? For people what's lived in the hospital for so many years, and then expect them to live on their own, it's wrong. If they've lived with their parents and that, and they go into a flat and they have a little support, they're OK. But for somebody what's lived in a hospital all their life and then to come out and go into a flat, that's murder. To me that is murder because that's just like putting somebody out in the street. They put them out on their own in a house, or by themselves in a flat, and they can't cope with it. I wouldn't do it, and I don't see why anybody else what's been in a long-stay hospital has to do it.
If they lived with their mum, OK, because their mum could watch over them. But if they come out of a big institution like I have, or a few of the others, they are not going to be able to do it. Because they've always had it, they've always had somebody there. They need support and somebody to teach them to do the things they should be able to do. To put them in a flat is murder. And you could find them dead one day, and then say, "Oh, why, how, did it happen?" Because somebody put them in a flat by themselves and they've never been used to it. To live on one's own it's cruel. They shouldn't put people what's been in a long-stay hospital on their own. I think that's the worst cruelty ever.
I've been taught to cook and everything because the places I've been in they've taught me how to do that. But if I had to go into a flat and pay all the bills and what-have-you it would worry me to death, and I think it would worry anybody else as well. I don't think they should do it. I think I would worry just a little bit for the bills and that because I wouldn't know what to do. I quite like where I am, I think I'll stay for a little while. I don't want a flat, I think it would frighten me. I think it would upset me, and the least little things upsets me.
A lot of people might not like it, some of them not at all, but I'm quite happy as I am.
If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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