Katie’s happy in her own home, even if that does make me feel guilty!

Katie lives in Henshaws Supported Living. Her mum Angela shares her story:

My daughter Katie is 26, and is on the autistic spectrum. Katie has learning disabilities and cannot talk, but communicates with noises. Once you get to know her, it’s easy to understand, particularly when she’s happy.

Katie started at the Arts & Crafts Centre after being at home for a year following Residential College. Initially there was quite a lot of turmoil, as apart from the music workshop she mainly likes to be outdoors. It took her a while to settle in, but the guys at the Centre were fantastic. They helped her to get settled and used to staff.

It was then suggested that the Henshaws Supported Living houses might be a good fit for Katie. We visited one in Gateshead, but they mainly supported people with a visual impairment. Because Katie particularly likes to sit in the hallway or on the stairs it wasn’t felt to be a good fit! One of the staff members then mentioned the houses on the College campus (although separate to College). I said it couldn’t be a quiet house, as Katie’s not a quiet person!

We began by visiting for a cup of tea, and then upped this to 2 hour visits, working up to an overnight stay. Katie is not a clingy person and this didn’t seem to phase her too much, and the staff were fantastic with her. The visits went well, and the other lady in the house has similar care needs to Katie as well. There were just a few alterations needed to the house before Katie moved in, such as locks on some of the cupboards, and restricted access to the stairs as she loves to climb!

Since she’s moved in there’s been no issues. Her care is 24 hours, and staff support her so well. She was a bit hesitant of her housemate at first, but now they get on together. They like to sit together on the settee, share a blanket and watch a Disney film.

It was very important to us that her mobility car went with her too. With support staff insured to drive the car, she goes here, there and everywhere and is out most days. She goes swimming, or for an ice cream treat, and she’s on the waiting list for horseriding.

We can’t praise the staff enough at the house. They’re always attentive to her needs. Her toileting and medicinal needs care is spot on. Katie never looks stressed or upset, and she gets on with everyone. She comes to us for her holidays, and is happy and smiley, but is never in a rush to leave her home!

It’s hard to give your child to someone else – it’s a guilty feeling, but I have no worries and she’s happy in her own home. I don’t know what I would have done without Henshaws.

I’m running the London Marathon in April. I wanted to give something back to Henshaws to say thank you for everything they’re done for Katie. It’s because of Henshaws I have the time to train for the Marathon too – if she wasn’t in her own home I’d be looking after her and not have the time. I’m following a running schedule with my team, the Tadcaster Harriers. We’ve made Henshaws our Charity of the Year. Several of us are running the London Marathon, we’ve got a member doing the Dublin Marathon and even someone running in the Boston Marathon! All of our sponsorship money will go to Henshaws, along with a cake sale and other events we’ve got planned.

The only thing about Henshaws is that it’s not very well known. I have to explain a lot what it is that Henshaws do: the history of supporting those with a visual impairment, and expanding to people with other disabilities, so people can understand what Henshaws does for Katie. My daughter has come along so much. I wasn’t expecting miracles: I know she’ll never talk for example, but she’s thriving and doing well. She’s doing everything she wants to do, and as a mum that is great to know.

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Angela is the mum of Katie, who uses Henshaws Supported Living service. She is an advocate and keen supporter of Henshaws, even running the London Marathon for us.