A young woman from Sittingbourne who is living proof that having learning difficulties need not stand in the way of being independent, has written her own account of the progress the right support has enabled her to make over the past year.
Meryem Kizigol, 34, said: “When I came to Park Road at the start of March last year I was unable to do a lot of the basic stuff. I kept myself to myself – a very lonely life.
“I can now do all my own laundry myself, cook, go for daily walks, do house chores and even do my own food shopping. After a lot of support and encouragement I have been able to do this with no support from staff.”
Park Road is a supported living service which accommodates individuals from the age of 17 and focuses on supporting them to develop their independent living skills, with a view to them eventually moving out into the community.
The team has also supported Meryem to reconnect with her family, and to develop a social life.
Meryem said: “I came to Park Road barely even talking to my family but I now write, call and see them which is always great.
“I didn’t like to socialise or travel, or stay away anywhere, but I have been able to travel and stay away overnight.
“Staff have supported me to go to London to see all the sights, Canterbury for shopping days, Birmingham, and even Ramsgate on trips away overnight.
“I have become more sociable such as going to discos every other Monday, also tenant meetings, tenants’ days out, and parties.”
Amanda Pryer, who leads the team at Park Road, said: “It has been such a pleasure to see Meryem gradually coming out of her shell, and we are sure she’ll achieve a lot more yet.
“All the staff at Park Road are so proud of her, and love working with her. Seeing someone you support – like Meryem – blossom and start to spread their wings is what our job is all about.”
The Park Road service, run by the Regard Group, supports individuals with learning difficulties to develop their independent living skills, identify employment opportunities and – using individualised transition plans – prepare for an adult life in a home of their own in the community.
Amanda said: “The effectiveness of our approach is also evidenced by the recent departure of two of Meryem’s former house-mates who recently reached the stage where they were able to move out into their own flats in the community, with Regard continuing to provide some outreach support.
“They have all made fantastic progress and achieved some very positive personal outcomes in relation to independence and quality of life, and it’s so good to see them getting the most out of life.”
Regard is the UK’s fourth largest private care provider for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injuries. The Group supports 1,088 individuals nationwide, with more than 2,600 staff working in 163 services.
The Park Road service, which is located in a Victorian house near to the centre of Sittingbourne, comprises are three fully-furnished ground-floor bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, and living area, with a further six furnished, self-contained rooms with fully fitted kitchenettes on the first floor, plus a communal lounge, bathroom, toilet, shower and laundry room.