A 25 year-old care worker in Twickenham, has helped a young disabled man experience the thrill of live music for the first time.
Lara Naqvi works at a residential home in London Road, run by major care provider Regard. She is the key worker for Matthew, 26, who has lived there for six years.
Matthew has very limited verbal communication and his behaviour is sometimes challenging, but he knows how to make is clear when he likes something and one of the things that makes him really happy is music.
“Most of all, he likes the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” said Lara, who is also a full-time psychology student at St Mary’s University, “so I found a way that we could go and see them.”
Practical issues can make access to live music events very difficult for people with special needs.
Lara said: “These kind of outings break the mould for a full-time residential service like London Road. If a key worker like me is on an outing with one of the service users, my shift still needs to be covered at the home and late night return transport can prove tricky too – but it’s nothing we can’t handle.
“We were told the disabled access area at the O2 was full when we went to see the Chili Peppers, but I spotted a special platform which was perfect for Matthew and was able to get permission for us to move there.”
His special needs mean that Matthew finds it hard to keep still and needs to be occupied all the time, but he likes all kinds of music. Lara says there is always music playing on the radio when he’s around or a TV music channel on.
The two of them have also seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing at Knebworth, and Lara has also been to the O2 with him to see Bob Marley’s band, The Wailers.
Lara said: “Matthew really likes reggae, and he clearly enjoyed himself very much. By way of contrast, we also went to see The Lion King on stage and he was totally caught up by the musical score and the colourful settings.”
Although Matthew lives in South West London, Lara helps him stay in close contact with his family in North London, who understand Matthew’s passion for music and have worked with Lara in planning these outings and sometimes helping with transport.
According to Lara’s manager, Peter Edney, her readiness to use her initiative goes a long way to explaining the success of her relationship with Matthew.
Peter said: “Lara understands what makes Matthew tick, and she’s always got an eye open for ways to extend his activities. For example, she supports him to attend college in Acton once a week – a great day out which includes a ‘kitchen confidence’ session, a group keep-fit class and an outing to the park. She also takes him swimming and accompanies him to our weekly pub lunch outing.”
Matthew is one of five young men with autism, learning disabilities or other behavioural needs who live at London Road. There is currently one vacancy – a large first-floor room with an en-suite bathroom. Details are available from Peter Edney on 0208 892 6406 or see www.regard.co.uk