The man who found his freedom

Vicky is a support worker based in London who has been working with David for 12 years. David has cerebral palsy and recently starred in a dramatic production of a play inspired by his life –  ‘The Man Who Found His Freedom’.

In this blog Vicky tells us about David’s story and the emotional experience of seeing his play in production. 

As a Scope Information and Support Worker in London, I have been working with David Grindley on and off for the past 12 years. David has cerebral palsy, which affects his speech and movement, and is a full time wheelchair user.

David has always wanted to tell his own story from going into residential care to finally having his own flat with the right support giving him choice and control in his life.

David has always loved the performing arts. In 2014, David decided to share his experiences. With his love of theatre playing a part in so much of his life, there was no better way to tell his story than onstage. David is a long-term resident of the Isle of Dogs and the original member of the Space’s community theatre company.

David finds his freedom

A scene from the play, with two men looking through a record collection‘The Man Who Found His Freedom’ is a play inspired by David’s life, devised with a company of writers and actors. Examining life in care, family and friendships, this moving new production explores the meaning of determination – and tells the tale of a man who’s never given up.

David asked me to come and see his play. I didn’t know quite what to expect. The Space Theatre is based in an old Church on the Isle of Dogs with a cafe on the first floor serving drinks and good food.

David played the main role of Mikey with four supporting actors playing a number of different characters – family members and support staff. The performance was absolutely wonderful.

A scene from the play where David and a PA look at a Christmas cardTo see David’s dream being achieved and being part of that was a real privilege. My 11-year-old nephew who came with me was transfixed the whole way through the performance which I was delighted to see and that he was able to discuss it after with a real understanding.

It is such an important story

I thought the whole story was so well interpreted by the writers, the director and the wonderful cast of actors.

I have to say I was really blown away. It is such an important story and message to get to a wider audience: going into residential care; the struggle of being heard when you have a communication impairment; the abuse some people experience; getting your own flat and the challenges of getting the right support.

Feelings and emotions of leaving your family, being with people who don’t understand you and the joy and responsibilities of getting your own flat of being independent and having the right support – All of these are enormous challenges and the play really brought this home.

Everyone I spoke to in the audience said that this play should be seen by more people – so if you see that it is on again in the future please do go and see it – what a treat!

Self-publishing: How do I publish my book?

Following our In The Picture campaign to include disabled children in the books they read, Scope published children’s storybooks,  My Brother is an Astronaut and Haylee’s Friends.

As a result, we receive quite a few approaches from people wanting to publish books about their experiences of disability, either as a disabled person or family member.

Much as we might like to, we can’t become a mass publisher but we’d love to see your books get published! Here are some people we know who have done just that.

Brighton Face 2 Face parent befrienders

Brighton Face 2 Face parent befrienders with their Paperweights book
Brighton Face 2 Face parent befrienders with their Paperweights book

Parents and carers of disabled children in Brighton and Hove joined a creative writing group and have published an anthology of their moving poems and short stories.

Kate Ogden, who ran the group, says: “The woman on my course inspired me, impressed me and surprised me. I believe it was the first course of its kind for parent carers, and I really hope it wasn’t the last. We have dreams of taking this nationwide, and the group went from struggling to say things out loud to shouting from the rooftops: our stories must be told.”

Parent Tracy Harding agrees, “We came together as strangers with something in common: coping with our children’s diagnosis through every type of obstacles life put in our way. All of us felt the therapeutic effect that comes from listening to others’ stories. Deeply identifying with every personal story. Opening our hearts and feelings with complete strangers brought us so close. Even though the disabilities were so diverse among our group our experiences were all so similar. Our anthology shows evolution and the journey from acceptance to continuing progress.”

The collection, Paperweights, is available to buy at Waterstones in Brighton  for a donation of £5. All the money raised from the sale of the books will go to the Brighton Face 2 Face appeal.

Beaumont College: Creating Catpig

Disabled students from Beaumont College have written and illustrated a children’s book called The Adventures of Catpig.

Catpig
Catpig

Beaumont’s Lauren Blythe says: “We created the book by hand using various craft materials, then we scanned each page into a Word document. We then printed these flat pages out and went around each character with a permanent marker due to our lack of Photoshop technology. We then scanned in our hand-edited pages and pieced them together on a Word document. The next stage was to send this document to a printing service”

“We have been lucky enough to win a creative enterprise award, which we collected at a local awards ceremony. We also did a speech using a communication device to share with the public something new they might not have seen before.”

Contact lauren.blythe@scope.org.uk if you would like to purchase a Catpig book, mug or shopping bag!

Crowdfunding for books

Here are some examples of books looking for funding:

Tips for aspiring authors