The value of our work is best told by the people who use our services and the staff who work with them. Read their stories here.
Mary arrived at Olallo House in London suffering from TB, HIV and the trauma of having suffered at hands of traffickers. When she voluntarily left her homeland of Africa, wishing to leave behind a life of poverty, hunger, the prospect of a forced marriage and surrounded by corruption, it wasn’t a hard decision. People promised her all that she wished for.
Mary was sold and bought many times as her journey took her from Africa and through Europe. By the time she reached the UK she was no longer for sale; she was unwanted and damaged. No one would buy her. She was finally free, but in hospital and diagnosed with HIV and TB – a victim of trafficking and modern day slavery.
The TB treatment is a long process and she completed this at Olallo House. Mary suffered through the memories, trauma, illness, pain and loss, but with time and intensive support Mary slowly began to recover and rebuild her life.
Mary does not know what the future will bring but has taken great steps forwards and continues with her rehabilitation.
*Name changed, photo: model
Alan has lived at Dalby View, our service in Coulby Newham since it opened in 1993 – two bungalows, purpose-built for 8 young adults with physical disabilities. Alan celebrates his 50th birthday this year, making him just 24 when this service became his home.
Recently Alan did something he had not done for many years, decades even: he went swimming. He asked via his ‘ideas board’ where people in our services are encouraged to put ideas on the board about what additional things could improve their lives and make them happy.
When Alan asked to go swimming, staff made it happen. With the involvement from staff at the local leisure centre and SJOG’s support team, Alan had an amazing time. Other people from the service also joined Alan and there’s no doubt that swimming will become a regular activity for everyone.
Emma also lives at Dalby View, and in her own words:
“My name is Emma. Sometimes friends and staff call me Emz or Emzy. I am a friendly, caring person and I like everyone I live with and the SJOG staff too. I also like visiting everyone in bungalow two next door.
I am a very girly girl and I love nice clothes, a strong cup of tea and a cheeky vodka and coke!
I communicate through talking but I am very softly spoken and you may need to listen carefully when I speak. If you would like to get to know me then having a cuppa is a great start, as well as paying me a compliment or two!
I love the singer Pink and Tina Turner. I have seen Tina Turner live and want to see Pink when she is next on tour in the UK.”
Rajesh arrived at our service in Thornton, Bradford in January 2008, having previously lived within a secure assessment and treatment centre.
In the early days of Rajesh living in our service, he had a high level of behavioural issues and challenging behaviours. Over time these have been addressed and Rajesh is now able to live a fun-packed life doing the activities he chooses.
He is able to communicate on different levels with all staff and is able to tell staff his needs and wants. He has trust in the staff who support him in the way he prefers.
In 2016, Rajesh was able to fulfil a dream to go on holiday to Dublin on a ferry. He is a member of the local gym and is interested in fitness.
Rajesh today is so very different, he’s a kind, conscientious individual who will go out of his way to listen, understand and help others. Today he is using an iPad and mobile text input to communicate.
Sister Kevin lives in St Paul’s Nursing Home, Selly Park, Birmingham.
“I was born in Lancashire in 1923 and entered the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul, the Apostle in Selly Park in 1942.
I left a very happy family with my parents, six brothers and one sister to join another happy family. Once I set foot in Selly Park I never looked back - I felt at home immediately. I’ve worked throughout my life to support the Congregation’s mission in various places in England, South Africa and Scotland. When I retired, I returned to Selly Park and at the age of 97 years, my care needs increased and it was time for me to move to St. Paul's Care Home. Since I arrived in December 2020 I’ve settled in well and I feel I can still contribute to the life of the care home. I have got to know the staff and they know me, and respond very well to my needs.
I still have the opportunity to live my religious life, attend mass and prayers from the chapel gallery or from my room. I like to keep up with hobbies –it’s a good way of sharing your interests with others. St. Paul's offered me a home from home in my youth and now St. Paul's Care Home has become the home where I am well cared for.”
“My name is Brendon Kelly and I’ve lived at Oakleigh Road [Bradford Supported Living Services] since June 2015.
In 2014, I had a tumour on my spine. After the operation I needed, I was told I would never walk again. I was a paraplegic. My world fell apart. I’d lost my mobility, my home and my friends. This caused me to suffer with depression and anxiety.
I then moved into Oakleigh Road. I didn’t want to live there - it was not my home and I didn’t know anyone. I withdrew and spent my time in my bedroom and refused to speak to everyone.
Three years later.. I’m walking again. I taught myself how to walk with the support of my support staff from SJOG.
I’m loving life. I’ve made new friends, built relationships with the staff team and made Oakleigh my home.”
This is my poem:
“You’ll never walk again the doctor once said.
That was it, life was over. I retreated to bed.
You tried and you tried to make me come round,
Your kindness was useless. I didn’t want to be found.
You tirelessly tried to reach out to me,
but I didn’t want you or this house, don’t you see?
Then slowly but surely your kindness turned me round.
I learned to walk, make new friends, live my life.
I was found!”
Adam* by Laura Fewster, Service Manager, SJOG, Billingham
The transition period for Adam to move into Sandown Road was very tight and he moved in with the team having very little knowledge about him.
Adam moved in with no communication methods at all and would use his challenging behaviour to communicate. He has only lived at Sandown Road since May 2018 and he now communicates using picture cards.
Before coming to Sandown Road, Adam was socially isolated and didn’t mix with any peers or access the community. He now eats with the other residents and staff, and regularly accesses the community.
We have supported him to experience a range of activities such as swimming, going shopping and for the first time in many years, Adam went out on his birthday for a meal with his family supported by the staff team.
We have seen a significant decrease in incidents with this young man and feedback from professionals and family has been astonishing and heart-warming. We have supported Adam with many health concerns.
Due to his complex needs, medical input was difficult but already has had his bloods taken for medical reasons, has undergone a general anaesthetic and has a referral to address an ongoing health concern that we are confident can be resolved for him.
A few words from Adam’s mum:
“SJOG has never made us feel like it’s just a business and just in it for the money. The team genuinely care about my son and always want the best outcomes for him. The team unite together with the family for the best outcome for my son. Finally we have found a place where he is happy and settled and getting looked after in every aspect including his health. As a mother I can’t ask for more than that.
I feel part of the Sandown family and always feels welcome. Since my son has lived at Sandown Road, a load of pressure has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally see my son is happy.”
* Not his real name.
“I recently attended a strategy meeting with my support staff in May, chaired by Paul Bott, [Chief Executive]. In this meeting we talked about employment and jobs within Bradford Supported Living Services.
I shared with the group how I had a job when I was younger. I was a screw counter in a factory when I lived at Westwood Hospital in my early 20s. I had to pack up and box up screws.
I enjoyed this because it made me feel part of a team and I had an important purpose. I was contributing to the community.
This must have got Michella [Service Manager] thinking! Days later Michella asked if I would like the responsibility of office assistant at Park Lane.
Management gave me a job description, which I agreed to and signed straight away. I cannot wait to start my new post. I am very keen to wear my new ID badge.”