Discovering a friendship
Discovery Latest12 June 2019
Recently, we went to visit a few of our services to meet some of our amazing staff and people we support, to find out more about them and hear their stories.
We thought we would share this one with you:
Shaun and Billy’s story
It is a quiet Wednesday afternoon in Chard and an amiable man named Shaun is chatting with his friend Billy in the conservatory of a Discovery service. He introduces himself and Billy, a man with profound learning disabilities who communicates without words and spends most of his life, as now, in a wheel assisted chair.
The rapport and trust between the pair is obvious and it is a heart-warming scene as with any true friendship.
Shaun, it turns out, is not a staff member but a person we support, who attends the service a few days a week. He spends much of his time attending the service helping Billy, staff and other people we support. He has a wealth of knowledge about the service, Billy, and the many other amazing people who attend.
As the day service fills up with a variety of people and activities, there are echoes of different decades of music coming from different rooms. New staff members are learning the ropes and laughing with people we support.
In an adjacent room, a lady listens to old records whilst simultaneously receiving a head massage and relaxing her feet in a foot spa.
A gentleman named Roger stops me for an impromptu shadow boxing match in the hallway, which he inevitably wins. Kindly, though, he takes pity on my lack of ability and offers to give me a quick lesson on the pads stored in the nearest cupboard.
Everyone at the service speaks highly of Shaun, or shows their appreciation of him in their own way.
Shaun has a learning disability but he doesn’t let it hold him back. He is a real inspiration to those he meets and explains why he likes spending time with Billy. He said: “He trusts me. And his family trust me with him.
“I can tell when he’s not happy or having a seizure and I can help staff to support him to be happy.”
As well as working with his friend Billy, Shaun helps out with a variety of tasks. He said: “When Billy isn’t here I do other jobs, or help with other people who attend. Yesterday I cut most of the grass.
“I know this place better than anyone, I know where everything is better than the staff!”
As we chat, another person we support shouts Shaun’s name, and he replies immediately with that man’s name in return. As the pair’s obviously well-worn game of call and response ensues, it is clear that he is a well-liked and well-respected part of the community.
“I’ve got my shadow today”, he says, and both men laugh.
A Pillar of the Community
Shaun is tireless in his efforts to take an active part in his community. When he isn’t helping out or attending the day service, he’s working at his local Sainsbury’s store.
He said: “I really like it here. I’ve been coming to this place for some time and I’ve seen it all, so when I get the opportunity to help out with Billy, it’s great.”
Shaun is now assisting Billy, who is resting in a specially adapted sensory room. Though there are a few years between them, the pair attended the same local school.
He said: “Billy comes here all the time. He uses the hot tub and likes it in the sensory room.”
Gail Davies is a support worker based in Chard. She is with the pair in the sensory room.
She said: “Shaun’s been here since we opened – 24 years served, same as me.
“Billy has been here four. It’s been a big change for Billy. He has amazing parents who will do anything for him.
“He requires constant support so he has respite care every other week for his mum to catch up on sleep. His complex needs mean that even mild illness or his regular seizures can become serious.
“Shaun is an absolute gem. He has a great deal of capability. His heart is in the right place and he is brilliant. He even does the gardening – he’s a jack of all trades.”
Shaun spends three days per week in total at the centre; as well as finding the time to work at Sainsbury’s two days per week.
It is brilliant people like this that make Discovery what it is. This is who we celebrate at every opportunity.
And you can join in too. If you are interested in volunteering with Discovery, visit our dedicated page, here.
Alternatively, consider a career with us.
By Alex Watson