My Achievements With Macintyre Charity 2016-2019

disability

This week I finished my 3 year journey with Macintyre. And what a 3 years t’s been! I have achieved things that used to make me feel extremely anxious and scared. But now I am able to do things around and about my community with more confidence.

I thought I would share with you some of my top achievements I have made through my time with Macintyre as a student in one of their life centres working on building my independent living skills.

My First Year

In my first year at Macintyre I was very shy and quite. I didn’t really like talking much. I found shopping really difficult and it took me a while to even get out of the car when shopping at the supermarket because I was so anxious and thought others were talking about me. After a while I had a go at walking to the shop entrance and waiting there for a bit. I worked with my support workers on something called Lego therapy, this is when you choose a lego brick colour that best represents a emotion. For example yellow was my happy colour and green my safe were as black represented the emotion scared. This was a great way to show others how I was feeling when I couldn’t express my emotions verbally or when my thoughts are going round in my head at 100 miles an hour.

I then started to use my lego therapy to help me in public places that make makes me feel stressed. I would go into the supermarket and just look at my green circle whilst going around the supermarket. We then started to shop at ASDA and before I knew it I was finding things we needed and paying at the till. When I felt anxious I would look at all the green posters etc around the supermarket not worrying about if everyone was talking, looking or laughing at me.

Towards the end of the first year I worked on trying to get on the bus. I was so scared about going on the bus I couldn’t make it even out of the grounds for a while. But over time I did manage to get to the bus stop and stop the bus. I went on a small bus journey to the nearest street and built it up from that. I then started to learn about how to stop the bus when you reached where you wanted to go.

My Second Year

At the start of my second year I came up with my own social enterprise project called Bryony’s Positive Enterprise. I made little gifts and cooked some things to sell. I made my own granola pots, pasta salad pots, cookie in a jar, hot chocolate stirrers, bracelets and key rings. I came up with my own ideas of what I wanted to make using Pinterest for ideas. For my project I learnt a lot about money management as I had to find and work out my costs and then how much I would sell my makes for making sure I made a little bit of profit as they profit helped pay for my next make and money towards my end of term treat.

I worked on cooking a meal I could take home with for my family and I to have. One term we did mains and the next desserts. I would find a recipe of what I wanted to make then I would make a list of all the ingredients needed. I then searched the prices of each item on the supermarkets websites. I wrote down each items price then added it all up to workout my total. I would then go to the kitchen to see if we already had ingredients we needed for the recipe. Making reductions to my shopping list seeing how much I would spend on each meal. I took the bus into town did my shopping at the supermarket and learnt how to use the self checkout. I had to make everything from scratch so I couldn’t buy things such as ready made pastry or sauces. when going into town to buy my ingredients I was able to get on the bus without feeling so terrified and I even caught the bus back from the noisy bus station which I found hard because it was so busy and noisy.

During my second year I did a lot of work on domestic skills. I did some washing, ironing of clothes and bed sheets, pairing socks and bed making.

Whilst in my second year I was trying to find work experience. So I did a lot of work on CV writing. I did do a morning volunteering at a Cancer Research Charity Shop. I then found work experience at a different charity shop and designed and made some of the window displays.

My Last Year

In my last year with Macintyre I worked in the community and not in the centre. I started to increase my hours doing my work experience at the charity shop. I learn’t how to use the till and over time I served customers independently. At the shop I also started designing and creating more window displays.

In my final year I found another work experience placement which was working on a little local farm which is a therapeutic learning centre that helps young people who are home educated, children finding it hard at school, children who find it hard in mainstream school or have mental health difficulties such as anxiety.

Through my time with Macintyre I have really grown in confidence and I now have skills to help me be more independent in every day life!

If you would like to know more about Macintyre Charity please visit: https://www.macintyrecharity.org

Body Image & Peer Pressure At School

mental health

This week is Mental Health Awareness week, the theme this year is Body Image. The way bullies treated me through my school life really had a massive negative affected on my mental health and how I saw myself compared to my peer group . It still affects me to this day.

Growing up at school with a disability was very hard for me . I looked different from my peer group as I wore a leg splint on my right leg . I couldn’t wear girls shoes as my splint couldn’t fit into many shoes at all sob I had to wear boys school shoes. I remember their came a time when I had to wear trainers to school and I got picked on a lot because my peer group didn’t understand why I could wear trainers and they couldn’t. I’d get called a teachers pet in class all the time.

I remember I would get bullied because of the designs I had on my splint other kids would say they were childish.As well as calling and shouting out words down the corridor when they saw me from “cripple”or a “spastic” to telling me they would cut off my legs. The bullying from wearing a splint got so bad I decided I wouldn’t wear a skirt to school so that my splint wouldn’t show so much. But of course when it came to summer and the warm weather other girls would bully me for not wearing a skirt but instead still wearing trousers like I did in the colder months. I remember this one time when I took off my splint because sometimes it would rub so much and my foot would be red and sore and another student told me they would break my leg so I wouldn’t need to wear a splint. When I came home at the end of the day I would wish I didn’t have to wear one in the hope the bullies would stop. I just wanted to feel accepted and normal.

Unfortunately the bullying didn’t stop their I was also bullied for having curly hair . At school I remember it was really fashionable to have straight hair, however mine was curly. I remember I used to think I was friends with these’s other girls who were popular. They would pour hot and fizzy drinks in my hair and tell me it was shampoo and that I needed to straighten it. But when I did straighten it they would always say it wasn’t straight enough. Having curly hair really affected me for a very long time but now I am on a journey to loving my natural curly hair but that’s a whole different post in it’s self.

One other massive thing that affected my body confidence growing up was having facial hair. I got bullied loads because of it, not just my peer group or other students in different years but also by some members of staff. Bullies made my life miserable. I began to feel scared just at the thought of having to go to school and knowing people would laugh and point. Walking down the corridors or going to the canteen for lunch was so horrible and scary I was always on edge. Other students would shout at me from down the corridors and call me names like Frida Kahlo. I remember this group of girls who threatened to pour acid on me if I didn’t get rid of it. Other students started to try and make rumours about me; I would sometimes just hear people laughing at me as I walked past as I was trying not to make eye contact wishing the ground would swallow me up.

Harnaam Kaur photo from Instagram.

One of my helpers was really lovely and tried to help me. I remember the day she told me one day about a lady called Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam Kaur also known as the bearded dame is a body positivity warrior and activist. She has a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 16 she decided to embrace herself for who she is. She stopped removing her facial hair just because others didn’t like it.

Harnaam really helped me to not feel like a freak and that I wasn’t alone. Bullies made me want to end my life. With all the horrible things that happened to me at school. However Harnaam helped me to stay true to myself. I now get rid of my facial hair but because I want to not because I feel I have to in order to please others!

Though what happened to me was horrible I am now on a never ending journey with trying to be more body positive as well as building up my self -esteem, confidence and self worth.

Find out more about body image: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/exec-summary