Sanctuary Supported Living residents share stories for Learning Disability Week 2019

To mark Learning Disability Week 2019, residents from Sanctuary Supported Living have shared stories of how sport has helped them to gain confidence, stay active and become more independent. 

Joanne Gatford is a 28-year-old resident at Sanctuary Supported Living’s Hazel Court in Worcester – a service that supports adults with a range of learning disabilities to live as independently as possible. 

The Worcester Warriors season ticket holder attends all home games with her father and grandfather and plays mixed-ability rugby training in weekly sessions run by Worcester Rugby Club

Joanne travels independently by taxi to the ground every week and describes her favourite sport as “interesting, fun and very cheerful.”

She says that taking part in sport makes her feel “fit, and healthy and happy.” 

In addition to rugby, Joanne has joined the gym and started horse riding. Aside from sport, she attends a weekly social group for people with learning disabilities, where she has made lots of new friends by speaking to new people. 

She keeps busy by attending resident meetings where she offers suggestions for activities, volunteers in a charity shop and helps with gardening in the community.

All of these activities help Joanne to improve her confidence and social skills. 

Sara Brown, local service manager at Hazel Court, said: “Joanne has really come out of her shell and is now confident enough to speak for herself and ask people for help.

“With the improvement to her social life and fitness, Joanne seems happier, more confident, is maintaining a steady weight and her life skills are getting better all the time.”

Joanne added: “I think Hazel Court is really nice and more people should live here. I would like to stay here for a long time.”

Learning Disability Week is an annual campaign by Mencap to raise awareness of issues around learning disabilities, with a theme of sport and inclusion this year.  

For more Learning Disability Week stories, blogs and videos from Sanctuary Supported Living, make sure to visit their website.

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