Three people supported by Accomplish have taken their first ever wholly independent overseas trip and it was a resounding success.
The trio live at Greenview, a residential service which supports people with forensic mental health difficulties and is based in the Midlands. They spoke with a member of the team at Greenview about their plans to take a trip together and they began some joint research.
Manager at the service, Michelle Critchley, takes up the story:
“As a Manager, this wasn’t something I had arranged before and the three people came to see me with a full plan of where they wanted to go which was Alcudia in Spain. I asked who was going with them, and they said ‘no one’.
“Well, while they are all supported on an informal basis and two of them are close to moving on to live independently, I still wanted to make sure this would be ok. We really carefully looked at the risks and how we could mitigate those for the group. As a service, we’re focused on positive risk-taking and supporting people to do the things they want to do and we spoke to our senior colleagues, those who commission our services on their behalf and the wider professionals around them about how we could support them to take the trip independently, and safely. Everyone agreed it was something we should support.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t an anxious time as a Manager. I made sure they knew they could contact me at any time if they needed me while they were away. We spoke to each of them individually about their own risks and how to keep themselves safe while they were away.
“We supported them through the process of getting their passports, what to expect at the airport, we went with them to the airport. I asked them to contact me when they arrived. They did – at 3am!
“I then had a call at 6am to say they were safely at the hotel. And then again at 9am to say they were going to breakfast. It was reassuring for everyone I think. After a couple of days, they settled into a routine and were comfortable, they rang every morning to share their plans and then later to share what they’d done.
“And what a lot they did do! There were trips to water parks, caves and go-karting. And they had a great time.
“This achievement can’t be underestimated. All of these people have been supported in services for a long time. None had ever been abroad before and this was their first time on a plane. There’s the airport, currency, language barrier and transport to negotiate. But they prepared, for example, they bought a phrase book and learned some of the language.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a really tense week! But it was a really positive risk. The group made a choice and we supported it. It was a real confidence booster for them, and one of them has already booked to go away again next year.
“It was a learning curve for each of them and they said the whole airport and flying experience was the highlight for them. While they are all adults, they are adults who are inexperienced in many aspects of life. But they took on board all of the preparation and advice and they had a fabulously positive time. We are incredibly proud of them all.”