A person we support and their support worker at a disco

Putting hope into action – Stefan’s story

Imagine you’re a young person with a zest for life.

But you’re isolated and spend five days a week at home with family. You’re caught in a negative loop. No friends = no social confidence = no life for a young person. But then you meet a whole support team who see your potential. 

At first you need a high level of support, but as you grow in skills and confidence they let go and you fly.

Just imagine how great that would feel for the young person on the cusp of independence and their support team. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening with Stefan, a young person with learning disabilities we support in Somerset.

Covid and other obstacles

Things haven’t gone without a hitch. The Covid lockdowns played havoc with support plans and exacerbated isolation. Over those 2.5 years Stefan, who’s in his thirties, now wants different things. Top of the list are a girlfriend, driving lessons and a job.

Earlier this year Discovery was supporting Stefan seven hours a week, but he needed more support to live the life he chooses, so the locality manager and assistant locality manager successfully applied to the social worker for extra support hours. Stefan can now expand his horizons through Discovery five days a week.

Gary explains how the best case was made for more support hours:

“Using Activate is good for presenting the argument for more support hours. It helps us speak the social worker’s language.”

-Gary Maughan, Discovery Lead Support Worker
A person we support and their support worker at a disco
*Stefan and Gary at the disco

Fast forward six months.

You’re in a sleepy Somerset town just before lunchtime. Walking past the town hall the sound of the Jackson Five reaches your ears. Curious, you put your head around the door.  At the front desk you’re welcomed by a man wearing an Elvis t-shirt and a big smile.

Disco lights sweep the floor while a group of people with disabilities, some in wheelchairs, and their support workers enjoy a catch up. A community comes together, open to all.

Inside the darkened hall the glitter ball lights up Stefan and his new girlfriend Holly’s faces as they jump onto the dance floor, holding hands.

Getting into a good rhythm of great support work

How did Gary, Ian and the Street Community Outreach team help Stefan get from where he was, at home five days a week, to where he is now, with a girlfriend and a strong sense of what he wants from life?

“We talk to him about his goals and needs and make him feel comfortable enough to talk to us. We treat him like an adult, not someone with a disability. We respect him, and he directs what he wants to do. He’s learning new skills and trying new experiences. He wants a car, girlfriend, and a job. We facilitate, but he decides. Now he’s in a relationship with Holly. We’ve been talking about sex education, relationships and respecting women.”

Gary Maughan , Discovery Lead Support Worker

Helping thousands of others like Stefan live the life they choose

Stefan lives an increasingly active and fulfilling life within his community as a young man who’s now in a positive loop, growing in confidence and skills, including regular disco trips, weekly skittles games with his friends and girlfriend and volunteering activities.

For example, Stefan is now interested in learning to drive and going to work. So, the Street Community Outreach team are supporting him to research work placements and apply for a provisional driving licence.

Over the last year Gary has seen Stefan grow hugely in confidence

So, what difference does Stefan think the support is making?

“Gary treats me like an adult and my life has changed for the better”

– Stefan

“It’s rewarding watching someone grow in skills, knowledge and emotions.”


Word spreads fast, and other autistic adults and people with learning disabilities are turning to Discovery’s Street Hub for support.

In the last year, Ian Hull and the Street Community Outreach team have taken on many new referrals. As a result, they’re often looking for new colleagues. If you are interested in a role which offers the satisfaction of knowing you’ve changed someone’s life for the better, then you can find out about our current vacancies here.

See Ian and Stefan talk to nic about changing lives below:

The Dimensions group (which Discovery is a part of) has been officially accredited as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute for two years running. Additionally, this year, we received a “Wellbeing” award and a “Great Workplace for Women” award.