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Samantha Mullaney, Navigator Developer for the Brandon Trust, shares her story of how she helped one of her individuals on the GEM Project.

“After my initial meeting with J it was apparent that there were lots of complex emotional needs as well as a learning disability.

J was capable of many things in the past but slowly had lost a lot of those skills due to losing confidence in herself and by socially excluding herself from the community. This put increasing pressure on the family as J would seek constant reassurance and the adult attention she was lacking.

Between myself and her social worker we devised a plan and distributed what J needed support with between us. J also had expressed her wishes of moving out of the family home into supported living.

J started working with the enablement team and I started to support J in the community, re introducing her to the drop in service that she used to access independently and supporting her going to bowling and community social clubs.

I had to give her full support with this, as it soon became apparent how little J understood due to her being on the autistic spectrum and how disruptive she became when she didn’t understand; this was probably a coping mechanism that she uses to cover up her lack of understanding.

As I worked closely with J, I became aware of her attention seeking behaviour and her constant need for reassurance due to her lack of confidence.

Slowly we started to make progress, I was spending a lot of time with J, working on her skills and developing them further.

J loved to be helpful, so I got her making the refreshments for a local community group and joining in the activities. After a while, we applied to a local charity shop to offer her time to some volunteering. They were keen to offer J some hours and I offered to support J in the first instance. As soon as J was feeling confident and worked under her own initiative I would slowly withdraw my input. J very quickly settled in and didn’t need much of my support, as long as she knew I was nearby, this gave her the confidence to work independently.

During this time, her social worker had also found some potential supported living placements. I supported J in her assessment interviews with her social worker and in her mental capacity meeting.

Over time, as her confidence grew in her staff team and her new life she became a lot more involved with the community, spending times with friends and her volunteer roles. She finally felt confident and had the reassurance she needed from all involved that she was doing just fine.

This led to her biggest achievement to date. She finally felt confident enough to retake her driving test and she passed!!

J really has now found her place in her community and life and I couldn’t be prouder of J and how far J has come since our first meeting. What is also heart warming about this journey is J’s parents are now Mum and Dad and not J’s ‘carers’.

I would like to thank J for being my first participant on the GEM project and allowing me to be part of her amazing journey.”

Our Navigator Developer shares their experience of the GEM Journey

by Nikki Davies