Independence means….’walk’

Registered Shared Lives carer, Sheila and her family have recently started to support Paul, who is 50 this month.

Sheila has helped Paul to get a bus pass, to learn to use public transport via Birmingham’s ‘Community Options’ scheme and about road safety, so that he can make use of the community for the first time in his life. Paul has started to access dental services to address long-standing dental health issues, which has improved his overall health. Paul has now bought his first bicycle and goes out for long bike rides with Sheila and her husband along New Hall Valley Park, enjoying the countryside. Paul’s regular day-time activity is helping on the allotments – ‘New Roots’ – run by Birmingham City Council.

He has become a visible and popular member of the community, having been supported to join several clubs and to get to know local shopkeepers, staff in the local library and even bus-drivers now know him by name. Sheila encourages everyone to ‘look out for Paul’ whenever he is out and about in the community on his own. Paul doesn’t have a lot of speech, but when asked if he understands what ‘independence’ means, he smiles and says ‘walk’.

Paul also joins in with activities, events and parties with Sheila’s family. Paul’s new passion is art and with the help of Sheila’s husband Tony – a day centre officer with a degree in illustration –  Paul  has found a talent for painting. The photos above are of Paul and Paul’s work, including his painting of cabbages on his allotment (entitled cabbage patch) which now hangs in pride of place in Sheila’s daughter Sam’s hallway in Surrey.

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