The video footage above will tell you Lewis' story. It is also explained in the text below.
Lewis is a young man with autism and with an incredible talent for music. Lewis was originally invited to be part of a pilot scheme in which he would be awarded £250 to meet a specific outcome, which would make a difference to his life. Lewis chose to use his money to pay for accordion lessons, and worked with a Community Broker to find out what was available.
They soon realised that in order to get lessons, Lewis would need his own accordion, so that needed an immediate change in focus. The broker shopped around and found a shop in Bellshill. She explained that Lewis had a lot of musical talent, but that it wasn’t easy for him to get to Bellshill. The shop owner offered to deliver the accordion to Lewis, and from there, things began to move quite quickly, as Lewis’ broker describes:
‘Apparently when he went in, Lewis just picked up the accordion and started playing. The shop owner said he’d never seen anything like it in his life, Lewis was just absolutely phenomenal. His mum mentioned that I’d been trying to get him lessons and the chap said ‘Do you mind if I phone the broker?’ So he phoned me and he said ‘My friend’s a lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire and I would like Lewis to get some really good education.’
This connection eventually led to Lewis taking lessons with a renowned tutor at the Conservatoire. The Broker had seen Lewis’s potential, and didn’t want to stop there. Lewis’ story was shared with other brokers and the Really Terrible Orchestra heard about him and they soon commissioned Lewis to compose a piece of music especially for them.
In another conversation with Lewis's mother, the Broker found out that Lewis loves Robert Burns Poetry and prose and recites it in the house. She made contact with the Robert Burns World Federation and arranged for Lewis to attend the “Robert Burns World Federation Conference”. He was invited to start off the proceedings by reciting Tam O’ Shanter to the President and guests - which includes dignitaries from Canada, Russia and America. He’s also had a work placement with Centre Stage, helping a choral group to organise their music.
These are examples of how Brokerage helps people identify their interests and abilities, supporting these in the context of a person’s whole life. As Lewis’s broker says,
‘What I would like to emphasise is that, going in, we started off looking at accordion lessons. But for me the brokerage is a bigger picture as well. It’s looking at where we can go with that, it’s not just looking at the one remit, it’s somebody’s whole life. Now Lewis is a true citizen, he’s an employer, he’s a friend, he’s now teaching folk all about stuff, they’re wanting to listen to him, they’re wanting to hear him. He’s earning money and his own self-confidence and demeanour is growing and growing and growing.’
Lewis’s mother is delighted with the support Lewis has received.
‘We feel really privileged to have this and to help Lewis’s music come on, because I wouldn’t have been able to do that myself. People are genuinely taking an interest in him and helping him, and want to see him succeed. I was awful worried when he was younger, I thought, what’s going to happen to Lewis when he’s older? But now I’m starting to think, well, he’s got a path and I can breathe a sigh of relief. He’s got something that he’s passionate about, he enjoys. As long as he’s happy, that’s all I care about. He’s happy, he’s safe and he’s doing something he likes, and I don’t think he’d have gone down that path without this self-directed support.’
At the time of writing, Lewis had just received a conditional offer of a degree course in Composition at the Royal Conservatoire and was meeting his social worker to sign the paperwork. For him, this is a natural step that follows learning accordion and composing orchestral music. For his social worker, this is the culmination of a two-year journey,
‘It’s been a pleasure to have been a small part in Lewis’s journey since first meeting him a couple of years ago. And also the involvement with the Community Brokerage, working with his mum and his tutor. We feel like we’ve been part of a wee team helping and it’s been an absolute pleasure. We’re all delighted with the progress and no one would have imagined the journey. What’s your favourite part of the last two years, Lewis?’
‘I find all the atmosphere of the Conservatoire very friendly. Also it is international so that means people from all around the world can come.’