Paul is in the driving seat to achieve his goals

photoHard work and ambition have paid off for 47-year-old Paul, who has learning disabilities and has gone from 24-hours-a-day support to owning his own flat and passing his driving test. He’s now on track for realising a third dream…

Paul Winward used to live in a residential setting where he was over-supported and was far from independent. He moved into his own flat in Middlesbrough last year, where he receives three hours of support a week from Dimensions, a national not-for-profit organisation which supports people with learning disabilities and autism.

He was determined to become more independent when he left the residential setting and after three years of driving lessons, he recently passed his driving test. Last month Paul was able to buy his first car.

While for many people these achievements may seem ordinary, Paul’s life has totally transformed for the better and it has allowed him to really gain independence; something a few years ago was only a dream.

Paul said: “I have always wanted to be independent and having my own flat and a car helps me do that. Moving into my own place makes me feel confident; I have privacy, space and I can make choices without having to discuss with others first. Just being able to get in my car gives me more freedom than I have ever had before – I used to have to plan journeys using buses or trains.

“I have nearly finished an IT course; my next goal is to get a job. Passing my driving test has given me more options for paid work, something I’m really excited about and have always wanted to achieve.”

When Paul first moved from the setting where he received support 24 hours a day, he moved into a Dimensions property where support staff taught him life skills to move into his own flat, as well as build his confidence and reduced his anxieties.

Sharon Sharp, the manager of Paul’s service, said: “Paul required some emotional support in areas around confidence building and general life skills. Dimensions support staff were able to support him through his driving theory, his practical lessons and it is amazing to see just how independent Paul is now.”

Jackie Milburn, Assistant Operations Director for Teeside, said: “We are so very proud of Paul and his ambitions and achievements. As an organisation, our aims centre around supporting people to achieve their goals, be part of their community and live the lives they choose.

“It is great to see what Paul has achieved so far and we look forward to supporting him through future opportunities.”

Dimensions supports around 3,000 people across England and Wales and is focused upon providing personalised support for people with learning disabilities and autism. The organisation is keen to support people into paid work and if any local businesses feel they have a position suitable for Paul, they can contact Jackie Milburn on jackie.milburn@dimensions-uk.org

Dimensions is a leading specialist not-for-profit provider of support for people with autism and/ or learning disabilities. It supports about 3,000 people in England and Wales. For more information go to www.dimensions-uk.org

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