Every now and then you meet someone or a group of people and they have a profound impact on your life. It might be an incidental meeting and you never cross paths again or it might be your best friend. Sometimes it’s an entire group of people which is the case for me in the last few years. There is a saying that goes there are friends for reasons, seasons and lifetimes.
My partners tribe
We had spent 5 years in fight mode, expending precious energy on fighting battles in the wrong way. The previous 12 months had been particularly difficult including poor health for everyone, homelessness and DLA tribunals not forgetting fighting social work, the education system and public transport while raising 3 children under 5. I thought I knew lots about disability and inclusion but boy was I wrong. I applied for Partners thinking it would teach me how to get a Self Directed Support budget and I would get 8 nights away in a hotel for some respite. What it gave me was so much more that’s it’s hard to quantify in words. We still don’t have an SDS budget but we are well on our way to having a good life and my family has thrived beyond my imagination or expectation.
Once I got over that hurdle I began to feel stronger and stronger and as the months passed my confidence grew and I started attending events at parliament, giving speeches to politicians and forming plans and ideas of how I can help change the future landscape in Scotland.
For the first time in my life I can see our future and it’s so so bright – for every member of our family. Partners has given me more than I had ever though possible. It’s put me back together again, challenged and changed my beliefs, put fire in my belly and a spark in my soul. I can advocate better, conserving that precious energy and I’ve realised that the only limitations set on Hannah’s future are the ones society puts on her, limitations that I will challenge and push the boundaries of ableism and inclusion so that every child in Scotland has the same opportunities regardless of ability. The people I met on Partners have become friends for life and a whole new army of allies and inspiration to keep me going in those times when it’s hard to see the light.
I graduated feeling stronger than I have ever felt in my life and I still have so far to go, but it’s no longer an uphill battle because I have a partners team now to walk along side and make the load lighter. I’m now part of a community of Partners graduates and professionals with a shared vision. I’ve learned how to work together with professionals and also how to celebrate our differences and abilities,rather than focus on what’s wrong. We’re going forward celebrating everything that’s great and everything we can do. We’ve ditched the negativity and the jargon. We’re no longer stuck, just surviving, we’re full steam ahead forging new connections, embracing the future and enjoying every single day. I could write for days about everything that partners has given and inspired in me as it’s so much more than the course description. It’s life changing and life improving in the most unexpected of ways, and if you let it, it makes you grow and flourish in ways you thought were inconceivable.
Applications for the next course are now open and I strongly encourage both parents of disabled children and self advocates to apply. It’s run by in-control Scotland and the applications pack can be found here