Seeing the bigger picture

Our work at bemix is about far more than improving opportunities for people with learning difficulties and autism, it is about celebrating and promoting the value that people with learning difficulties and/or autism bring to all areas of our society.  There is limited value in us gaining skills in how to get a job, or gaining a qualification in music performance, or crafting beautifully sustainable wooden artwork if society does not value us as employees, entertainers and producers.

As self-advocate, Steve Chapman, said in a recent interview - "We have to work very hard to be seen and heard in society, but it should be the other way round!  Local government, statutory services, employers and the whole community should be working to make sure we are included."

Frustrating as it is to feel like we are putting in the lion's share of the effort to achieve equality, we know that the more people in the community really see us for who we are, the easier that journey to being treated as equals and valued as individuals will be.

Making a difference

The idea that people with a learning difficulty and/or autism are only passive recipients of care and support is an outdated belief and change is long overdue. We believe that one of the most effective ways of changing society's perspective of people with learning difficulties and/or autism, is to get out in the community and make a difference.  

Danielle is on a supported internship at The Willows, a day centre providing a bright, safe and relaxing atmosphere for people living with dementia. The centre has provided placements for our interns for a couple of years now, providing the opportunity for young adults with additional support needs to gain work experience and training in improving the quality of life for people with dementia while their family carers take a respite break.

Danielle had the idea of inviting bemix Work Coach, Rosie, and her 4 month old daughter, Bonnie, along to meet the residents at Willows.  Encouraged and supported by her Work Coach, Lysette, and Willows Manager, Jeanette, Danielle arranged for Rosie and Bonnie to visit before Christmas.

Jeanette said ''it was so lovely to see the reaction from the members of the Willows when they saw the baby. They come alive and are so attentive and gentle when they see babies and children. They all wanted to have a cuddle and make a fuss of her. Men and women alike were cooing over her."

Inspiring the next generation 

Each year we aim to attend Meadowfields School's Moving On" event.  The event is a chance for students to find out what opportunities are available when they leave school.  We have a close relationship with the school in Sittingbourne, and several Meadowfields students have progressed into internships or group projects with bemix.

Steven, who is currently on our Supported Internships programme, was a student at the school.   As a confident communicator, we knew Steven would be a great asset to the team on our stall and at the event.  Steven was keen to take up the chance to return to the school to tell them all about bemix and the work placement he was about to start.

Being close in age to the students helped make Steven approachable to the young people attending the event. Leaving school to join the adult world can be scary for anyone, and Steve was able to inspire the students, showing them what is possible for them to achieve and get involved in when they leave school. He helped at the bemix stand alongside Project Leads Gemma and Sharon, and circulated the room so no one missed out on hearing about what we do. 

People across bemix continue to inspire others with our ideas for improving the community, our achievements in work and training and in the friendships and joy we nurture. The community needs us to be seen and heard or we all lose out.