Inspire to Independence

14 August 2019 | Midlands

Inspire to Independence

How young people with life-limiting conditions are helping each other to lead fuller lives.

For people with serious and life-limiting conditions, it can be difficult to achieve independence, even in adulthood.

But a group of young people in the Midlands have got together to support each other to live the fullest lives possible.

Most of the founders of Inspire to Independence suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe muscle-wasting condition.

But they refuse to let their disabilities hold them back, and work together to help themselves, and others.

They meet at The Bridge Transition Centre in Tipton, headquarters of the Murray Hall Community Trust, a charity which helps people with life-limiting conditions transition into adulthood.

As well as advising on health and wellbeing the charity seeks to help reduce isolation and help the young people feel empowered to fulfil their aspirations and maximise their potential.

Pat Turner, transition development coordinator for the charity, explains: “It is all about them helping each other be as independent as possible and give each other peer support.

“There are things out there they want to do, see and learn about, and they are doable, but sometimes they just need to be shown how to go about it. It can be tricky from a logistics point of view as their chairs are quite large and can limit where they go and what is accessible.

“Meeting people who will inspire them is also key. They have social enterprises come in the give talks and motivation. But we also had someone with a similar condition to them come in and explain how he had successfully attended university.”

Lewis Rose, 32, was one of the co-founders of the group four years ago. He says: “We thought it would be good to get together, talk and come up with ways of improving our lives. We all suffer from confidence issues and can feel self-conscious when out but this helps.

You obviously are more comfortable when around friends. We can also give each other tips about our medical condition.

“But we also want to make a contribution - recently we made a film about the group that we hope that will encourage others to come along. We had a professional come it to show us. He taught us new skills like video production using specially adapted equipment and headsets.

“We also had someone come in and show us how to set up a micro-business. That was cool.”

His friend and fellow group member Dan Dean, 27, added: “It stops me getting isolated. Our conditions mean we are physically limited and that can mean spending a lot of time at home. It is important that we get out and see friends. Because of the group we have started to socialise outside of the centre too, we go for the pub for example. After all we are no different to anyone else in that we deserve a social life.”

Meetings have included various speakers and activities, recently they also met with the Open University to talk about sexuality and Citizens Advice also came to help discuss money, finance and savings.

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