Not being able to take part in the normal Christmas traditions we love this year might be hard, and at times lonely. But at SeeAbility we know that loneliness and missing out is a day-to-day reality for many of the people we support. In some cases, people come to us who are incredibly isolated from society, misunderstood and unable to get the right support to enable them to achieve what they are capable of. Can you imagine how it must feel to be excluded because you can’t communicate with someone to make friends, or your wheelchair can’t fit through the doorway to even get in the room in the first place? So we work hard in many different ways to support, create and adapt situations for individuals with learning difficulties, autism or sight loss, so they can overcome isolation and be the active, included member of society they want to be.

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Danny grins at the photographer, showing off his placeMeet Danny

Danny has always wanted to get the most out of life. Meeting him now, you can see this clearly. Behind his warm smile is a determined, ambitious attitude that says he’s always open to new experiences and opportunities and wants to join in. 

But it hasn’t been an easy journey for Danny. When he first moved into SeeAbility’s Fiennes House in Somerset, he’d been struggling through a difficult period with his mental health. Over the previous 10 months, he’d lived in 5 different houses, all of which had broken down, as support teams struggled to understand him. In one situation, he was asked leave after just 24 hours. Can you imagine how that must have felt? He wanted to reach for his goals, but the doors kept shutting in his face.

Initially, Danny carried his frustrations over to Fiennes House. Understandably, he had become disillusioned and his guard was up. After being let down by people who were supposed to care about him, and help him achieve his dreams, we don’t blame him. At previous homes he had become isolated and frustrated. Let down, and left behind, he felt, as you may feel now, that life was hard and unfair. 

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A different approach

But the SeeAbility team took a different approach – they focused on understanding and recognising his frustrations. Sarah, the Fiennes House manager, explains:

We treated him like the adult he is. We talked with him about what frustrates him and offered ways to help him process those emotions - and that’s changed his life.

Slowly, this approach started to work. The team at Fiennes House spotted little glimmers of progress, and started to see a different side of Danny shine through. So we carried on working together with him. And now, Danny’s a much happier person – he trusts his SeeAbility team. He’s much more collaborative and he’s ambitious about his life. He’s even found a job he loves and I’m delighted to say he was recently promoted too!  Whilst Danny loves living at Fiennes House, he’s already set his sights on moving out in the future and living more independently. We’ll be so pleased to help him do just that, and will ensure he has our ongoing support to make it possible. After years of isolation, he’s now flourishing. And we couldn’t be happier to see it.

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Looking back on 2020

So this Christmas, we are hoping that Danny will be able to look back at this year and celebrate his progress, and recent promotion, with his family. Our team of staff and volunteers at Fiennes House are working out how we can safely celebrate with Danny and the other people he lives with on Christmas Day itself, so that everyone can take part in the festivities. We know our normal big Christmas dinner that everyone shares together might be a bit different this year. But however we manage it, we’ll make sure everyone is part of the celebrations.  

No matter what tiers or lockdowns we are all under, I hope you find a way to celebrate with your family and friends. And as you sit down for your Christmas dinner this year, think about the celebrations that Danny and his friends will be taking part in together too. Please know that your support today can truly change lives.

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