Dorset Advocacy Hello My name is Stephen Kelly I am 33 years old and I was born with Down’s Syndrome
3 From the age of 4 until I was 7, I went to school in London and when my parents moved to Bournemouth in 1986, I went to Linwood school. I have been lucky because I have supportive parents and attended excellent schools.
4 I then went to Lufton Manor in Somerset. This was a boarding college for people with learning disabilities, there I was taught to live independently. This was the first time I had lived away from home and it was really scary. I felt very lonely and worried and cried a lot to start with because I thought my parents had abandoned me.
5 After a while I made friends and started to enjoy it. At the college we were taught many different things and I learned some things about: Farm working Hotel and catering work How to use computers. I was taught how to become an independent adult.
I came back to Poole in 2000 and because of what I had learned I then lived independently in a shared flat. I went to Poole College where I did a cookery course and then did work experience at Poole Park Coffee shop where I learned how to clear tables, wash up and make sandwiches.
7 Other jobs I have had include working at a Little Chef and working in a record shop where I did such things as sorting and labelling CDs and helping customers.
8 When I was 21 I started work at a local supermarket where I worked in the Coffee shop, collected trolleys, stocked shelves and helped customers. It was while I was working at the supermarket that I noticed that not everyone is kind to people with a learning disability.
9 At all of the places I worked most people were kind to me but some people did not know how to treat me and were very rude. Some people were rude to some of the customers who had a learning disability. They talked down to them and made fun of them behind their backs. This really used to upset me.
10 Living with a learning disability has sometimes been hard. In 2004 when I was 25 I was employed by the Borough of Poole. I was very proud when they asked me to be co-chair of a committee which was set up to help disabled people to live out in the community.
Through my work at the Borough of Poole I was employed by the Dorset Advocacy and I have worked for them for the last four years. Dorset Advocacy is a charity which supports people who cannot speak for themselves. It gives a voice to disabled people and helps them to stand up for their rights and choices.
My job at Dorset Advocacy involves talking to people about how we can help people with learning disabilities. I also talk to Charities that can help us with funding for our work. I feel that I am a role model for people with learning disabilities because I understand how they feel.
13 Dorset Advocacy aims to make sure all its work is of a high standard. We are proud to hold these Awards:
14 I thank you for listening to my story. I would be happy to answer any questions you might like to ask me.