Sarah's story

"James was a very unhappy young man with little self-esteem in the months before he moved to one of the services of the Hesley Group back in May 1994 when he was 17 years and two months.

James had always been at a mixed disabilities special school and had never been in residential education but as he grew older his complex needs meant that the school that he attended became less able to meet his needs and there were also children under five at the school and he found it very hard if they cried out or made certain noises. It took a lot of soul searching and research before we decided that we would like someone from the Hesley Group to meet with James but as soon as they did we knew that it was the right decision for him.

The Head of the provision just ‘got it’ where others didn’t understand at all. He supported James personally through his early ‘dark days’ of not sleeping, eating or wanting to do anything and often  he would return at night to settle James as he was the only person that he initially responded to. Over a period of a few months the programme of education and support turned James around and he became once again, proud of himself and interested in life again.

On December 30th 1999 James moved to Hesley Village as the fifth resident and as the Village developed was the first young person to move out of the main building which is now the Head Office and into Berry Lodge, He was asked if he wanted to live with others or on his own with support and he was clear that he wanted the latter and he was listened to and his wish was granted. It was an amazing day for all of us when James moved into his’ own place’.

James is a very complex man but has the greatest sense of humour, he loves those people that he loves but won’t give five minutes to those that he doesn’t, which can be a challenge to staff but they never lose respect for him. He has had many up and down times and if he hadn’t he wouldn’t need to live somewhere like the Village. He has had two major traumas where he has needed every member of the team to work together to help him. He has received and continues to receive support from the therapists of the group who support his staff to support him.

We aren’t saying that there aren’t times when as family we have raised issues on his behalf but James has a brilliant support staff and one who has been with him for ten years and ‘gets it’ too; understanding and identifying his triggers almost all of the time.

James says that Berry Lodge and the Village are his home and that he visits Moma and Dada’s house and if James thinks it’s a great place so do we."

Written by James' mum Sarah