The video footage above will tell you Afton's story. It is also explained in the text below.
Afton is a 16 Year old young woman who uses her individual budget through Self- Directed Support to employ people her own age to help her live as full a life as possible. Afton has limited verbal communication, so her story is told here in her mother's words.
'Afton had a Direct Payment for a while, and we were coming up to the process of changing over to SDS. There were a couple of things that weren’t working quite as well as we had hoped. Under direct payments we engaged with an agency, but it was older people, older women who came to support her. They were doing things with Afton that she wasn’t happy doing, like shopping - she hates shopping! One of them did take her horse riding which she absolutely loved, but the other stuff just wasn’t her and she wasn’t happy about going, so we were looking to do that a bit differently.’
What did the broker do?
‘I had asked for a broker’s help because, as a parent, it is really hard to see the wood from the trees sometimes. The broker was absolutely brilliant. We just chatted and within half an hour she had just captured all these things about Afton, which is probably the first time anybody has actually done that. I think one of the most striking things about that whole meeting was, the whole family was there and the broker just spoke to Afton. It was almost like we were the people who weren’t important, which was lovely. Afton doesn’t have a lot of words, but she communicates in other ways, like smiling and gestures. The broker always directed the questions at Afton, even if she wasn’t answering them, which was lovely, the first time that’s ever happened.’
What are the outcomes that Afton wants?
‘Afton’s outcomes are mostly stuff around being a teenager, being independent, being part of a community, as well as a break for us as a family, I suppose. She doesn’t want me to go and do the stuff that teenagers do. It was more about socialisation. I’m very keen that Afton is involved in things like everybody else. Her brother goes to football, meets up with his pals, goes to the pictures, goes to concerts, and I wanted the same for her. I didn’t see why it should be any different just because she’s got a disability and needs somebody with her. Obviously it stands out if she’s got an older person with her. With the girls we’ve got through the brokers, they just look like a group of friends; the girls treat her as a friend. It’s just so natural. The fact that they get paid for it is almost just an add-on.’
‘We only started employing the girls in September, but the difference in Afton when they come as opposed to what we had previously - it obviously wasn’t fulfilling the things she wanted to do. She used to stand at the window for the other supports that she had, and she would notice them pulling up but they would never arrive on time, they would be half an hour late. For Afton, time is really important. She would get excited because something was happening, and then they were lat! But when the girls come, she gets so excited, she starts jumping and stuff. She’s started opening the door for the girls as well. It’s the whole communication thing for Afton, it’s completely and utterly different and they’ve just made a connection on such a basic level. The girls get so excited to see her excited, it’s nice. Before, she would go away with the other supports, but it was just alright, there wasn’t any anticipation.’
What’s next for Afton?
‘Afton still has another two years to go at school, so as far as I’m concerned, what we are doing just now is working really well, so we just keep doing that. She goes out with the girls twice a week. We’re flexible with the times. The girls come up with different things for them to do. My only concern is what will happen once the girls leave school, but we’ll deal with that when we need to. We will probably go down the same route, look for younger people and employ them. All the struggle getting her to where she is now is worth it. I don’t have any qualms when she is away with the girls, I can just relax knowing she is with her friends.’