I have only recently joined ubu and I have no doubt that most people here will have vastly more experience of supporting people with complex needs than I have - I was just a commissioner after all.
In my previous role I didn’t actually get much chance to talk to the people that we supported, and when we did get to talk together I was often talking about something quite difficult like a Safeguarding problem, or difficulties with some support that was being provided. Those occasions when I could just have a good chat therefore were very valuable to me. Mostly these were during my frequent visits to a café in York that supported people with learning difficulties to learn about the world of catering. I often spent time there as it was comfortable, the coffee and toast were good and I convinced myself that I was helping to support the service.
After a while however I realised that I needed this place - more than it needed me. What was it that kept pulling me back? Sure the food was good, but not great, and it wasn’t particularly cheap - a major consideration for a commissioner you will agree, and it wasn’t in a great locality, but I kept going back.
People did know that I was a commissioner; in fact I had worked with, as well as frequented this place for many years, so I was a relatively well known and familiar face when I walked in the door. It was comfortable. But that wasn’t the reason.
Over Christmas however, a few years ago, I worked out what this place does. Some of the ‘students’ had moved on to another café in York to gain some work experience, outside of a supported environment, and I happened to bump into a friend who had been there. She was just talking about the guy that had served her and how open, honest and giving of his time and enthusiasm he had been. He was a caring and considerate member of staff and was delightfully happy to be able to do his job.
That's when it hit me; that is why I keep going back to that café in York, because the people there are all givers with gusto. They are givers and they are delighted to be able to give. To me that is what Goodwill and Giving, and an enjoyable afternoon in a café is all about, and I love it. I just need to invest in being there to allow it to happen.