Emma's story

“The right support makes all the difference in the world. It gives me the freedom to be me”

Emma’s been supported by Thistle since 2006, when she was in her final year of high school and a year before she moved out of her parents’ home to a place of her own.  Emma has a team of six Thistle Personal Assistants supporting her to live the life she chooses. Here’s Emma’s story of the difference support makes.

“With the right support, my choices - big or small – are respected, whether they’re about where I want to go that day, to how I want my cup of tea. It’s about being able to get on and do the things I want to do: working, going to the football to see Hearts play, catching up with friends for coffee or going to a family wedding.

“I love my job as a peer support worker and I also have a number of volunteering commitments that are important to me, including my recent appointment as a Trustee with the charity Visualise.

“My team support me with what I need to go to work, whether that’s working from home during the pandemic or going into the office in Craigmillar. Support from my team means my employer doesn’t have to make special allowances for me, I can get on and do my job – and do it well.

“It also means that I can choose to go on a night out with friends without my PAs going “Emma, you’ve had too much to drink” instead it’s “Emma, go and move yourself back over to the left side of the pavement!” The right support is about me being able to live my everyday life as I choose.

“My team recognises that for me to live my life, they need to be adaptable. On paper it might say a ‘9 hour sleepover shift’, but that assumes that I’d be asleep from 10-7am! I’m more of a night owl and my team respects that. After all, if they aren’t in bed at 10pm like clockwork every night, why would they expect me to be? And if I wasn’t able to set my own schedule how else would I have watched the Tokyo Olympics?

“It’s important to me that my relationship with the people supporting me is authentic. To support someone, you need to be empathetic, patient and be able to show an interest in what matters to the other person. It can be a challenging job to provide support, but it’s also challenging to be supported. We’re all human and mistakes happen, people need to feel able to be honest and say sorry.  It’s a long day if you cannae have a laugh!

“I’ve a really good team working with me and we’ve built those strong relationships. And that means it can be really hard when a member of the team leaves – and why it’s so important to find a good match.

“With Thistle, I’ve got the right support. I’m living my life the way I choose, with the freedom to be me…. And the freedom to choose who supports me!” 

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