Learning Disabilities & Autism Real Lives

Grease is the word for Darren!

Darren has a keen interest in motorbikes - his favourite bike is a Kawasaki Ninja and he has met his idol, John McGuiness a Tourist Trophy races (TT) rider

When Darren, a 50-year-old with a learning disability, first moved to his supported living service in Staffordshire run by national charity, Ambient Support, his Team Leader was keen to understand his likes and interests.

It was soon discovered that Darren was very passionate about motorbikes and mechanics and so the team enquired at the local garage as to whether Darren could trail voluntary work for one day a week. The garage agreed and Darren has been volunteering at DK Motorcycles for around three years now and is thriving in the workplace environment.

Darren has built a good working relationship with his manager at DK Motorcycles, Matt, and helps him to strip bike parts and place them onto the internet to sell. He also enjoys the comradery and sits and has lunch in the canteen. Darren’s confidence has grown considerably and he always he returns cheerfully at the end of his working day.

Darren says:

“Working at DK Motorcycles is really fun. I enjoy working with Matt and he has become a good friend. He has shown me how to use tools and strip and clean bike parts. When I go to work, I like to look at the race bikes. There are about a thousand bikes in the showroom and it is amazing!”

Darren is not paid but he is a willing and enthusiastic volunteer at the garage which gives him flexibility and suits his personal needs.

Matt Cartlidge, Mechanic at DK Motorcycles, says:
“Darren has been working with me for three years now, he helps with a lot of jobs in the workshop, such as cleaning various bike parts ready for reselling. Occasionally, he goes around the main display room and polishes the bikes that are for sale. I enjoy teaching him about what the various parts of engines do.

“I think it’s good for Darren to interact with the other mechanics in the workshop, it’s given him a good sense of routine and independence. I believe it’s positive for his mental health and working here has boosted Darren’s confidence. I also think it encourages the wider team to be more understanding and accepting of people with a learning disability and helps to encourage engagement. We really enjoy seeing Darren each week.”

Darren’s Learning Disability Supported Living Service in Staffordshire provides 24-hours support for him and two other individuals and is a good example of exceptional person-centered care.

Vicky Morris, Head of Quality at Ambient Support says:

“Our Learning Disability service in Staffordshire is an excellent example of Ambient Support’s exceptional person-centered care approach. The People We Support (PWS) are involved in all decision-making processes and at their request, given more responsibility to help manage their home- from looking after pets to growing vegetables in the garden- which encourages independence and boosts confidence.

“Darren’s volunteering work shows the importance of understanding people’s preferences, their life interests and then turning that into a reality to ensure good quality of life. We’re extremely proud of our care teams and their hard work.”




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