Gary lives in Worcester and greatly enjoys acting, theatre, and music. Gary has an engaging personality and enjoys nothing more than meeting people and expressing his passion for the arts through live performance and costume.
Gary is a real champion – someone who is living the life he wanted and overcame a number of setbacks in life to become an independent citizen and contributor to the local performing arts and disability rights scene. Sadly, Gary’s story is an all too familiar one of a life lived within restrictive and unimaginative care settings for too many years.
A number of significant events, starting in childhood, meant Gary was moved from care home to care home, each placement becoming more restrictive. Meeting people and taking part in the local arts scene was almost impossible and contact was limited to care staff, seeing his mum at weekends, going to Church, and attending day centre provision.
Those who cared about him were keen to see another opportunity for Gary which met his spiritual and personal needs and respected his wishes for greater independence. Gary had a highly experienced social worker who recognised his potential for learning and believed that Gary was being denied the opportunity to develop essential life skills - especially his social opportunities. His social worker considered there to be a great mismatch between his restrictive care arrangements and his strong desire to be part of the local community and make friends.
North Star’s involvement from 2010 was to develop a plan with Gary and his advocates to move into a much more empowering model of housing and support. There were a number of obstacles in the way, including capacity assessments which recommended that Gary would not understand the risks of living in community. Moving out therefore involved taking some calculated risks and there was a case put forward by the social worker about how North Star could support Gary towards achieving a number of positive outcomes.
Gary moved out in early 2011 to his own home in Great Malvern and immediately joined a local theatre group. Ten years on, Gary is living the life he wanted - he has his own flat in a City Centre and can come and go as he pleases. He is part of a performing arts group and takes part in live performances at theatre halls throughout the year. He is an active member of a local steering group for Disability Rights campaigning and his voice has been heard on the BBC News.
Gary has established a wide group of friends following involvement in groups and clubs and his relationship with his mum is better than it has ever been. Importantly, Mum is free of the worries about Gary’s future which so concerned her previously.
None of this would have been possible without a forward thinking and caring social worker and the ongoing effort from Gary’s advocates and his dedicated support team. It is a strong message that the people who love and care about us need to be involved and listened too. Well done Gary!