Story 37

Giving something back

I first joined Leonard Cheshire Disability when I was 16. It was 1974 and I started living at Oxfordshire Cheshire Home in Banbury.

Jill Dalby

It was a big, lovely house with an extremely old lift. There was a good atmosphere around the place and I loved the huge fetes that we used to have. I liked the people there and we were all happy.

I didn’t really think about being the youngest person there. I can mix with anyone. I’d been staying with lots of people at my special school already but this was even better.

Eventually we needed a new home to replace it and Agnes Court opened in 2008. I transferred to here and started to look forward to a home of my own.

The flat that I have today would not exist without the help of Leonard Cheshire Disability and a former resident — Dick Harris — who also features in this collection of stories. They made sure that there were independent living flats built next to the new service. I moved into one of these.

It’s great to have my own place. It makes me feel good to have the independence. I like cooking for myself when I can. I like getting out and about with other people, and I always enjoy shopping! Sometimes I’ll even turn a food shopping trip into a social occasion and we’ll go for a meal too.

I’m really looking forward to going on a cruise to France and Spain this year. It’s a really good accessible holiday with loads to do and see. I can’t wait.

Today I still volunteer at Agnes Court four days a week. As well as getting involved in fundraising, I mainly help out in the activities room. I assist with quizzes, newspaper groups and whatever is needed. I am quite good with computers, so I help people living there to stay safe online. I know people quite well and sometimes I can offer advice. When you’ve lived in a service for as long as I have, it’s nice to give something back.

It’s great to have my own place. It makes me feel good to have the independence.