Anthony talks about how Scope supported him toward his ambition of working to support disabled people. He shares his story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.
When I was five years old I met a young boy at school who was severely disabled. He didn’t walk, talk and couldn’t sit up. It made me feel sad that he couldn’t get involved and play with all the other children. He used to lie on the floor and I wanted to lie down beside him. I went home one day crying because I worried about him. My mum asked what was wrong. I told her I was sad about my school friend. Ever since the first day I met my school friend I have wanted to help severely disabled people.
At my secondary school, there was a boy with a profound speech impairment. Teachers used to call me to help interpret. The teachers all said how good I was at helping others. When I got a little older I met my best mate who also had a speech impairment. I’ve known him now for nearly forty years and I have been his voice many times.
My passion is to help severely disabled people. This is why advocacy is very important to me. Too many times, I’ve seen people without a voice left in a corner and forgotten about. It is people like this that need advocates. This is why I am doing my advocacy course, to help give other people the chance they deserve.
What has been the greatest hurdle you had to overcome?
The greatest hurdle is to tell people what I really want; to get people to believe me. They say to me how can you do it when you need so much support? You are disabled yourself, how can you help other people? But I can help people exactly because I am disabled and I know what it feels like. I feel their frustrations and understand their difficulties.
The breakthrough came when I came to Scope. Scope saw my talents in helping people. Then I met my fiancée at Scope and another lady at my service who needed support. This made me more determined to help people.
I was at home one day when an assessor for one of the staff members came in and I had an idea. I asked her if I could do a course in advocacy. She searched for me and said I could do a unit on Advocacy or an NVQ2 in Health and Social Care and choose units in Advocacy.
The assessor was almost sure that the college would provide funding. Unfortunately she came back and said the college would only provide funding for someone who is employed for at least 30 hours a week and will continue to work after the training. Sadly my volunteering did not count.
So my key worker and team coordinator began to look for funding. One of the people they contacted was my care manager at Richmond Council. We had a couple of meetings with my care manager from Richmond Council. They presented my case several times and all the evidence they had gathered about my volunteering and the work I have done to improve outcomes for disabled people.
Richmond Council eventually agreed to pay for the training. It means I am on my way to achieving my lifetime goal; to help give disabled people the voice they never had.
I want to say a big thank you to my mum, my family for believing in me, to my local authority and Scope for giving me this opportunity, supporting me and believing that I can do it.