‘Helen loves people, she loves socialising and Stanley Grange is the perfect home for her, she is surrounded by people and gets to be part of everything.’
Helen moved to Stanley Grange in 2005 when she was 26yrs. Pat, (Helen’s mum) recalls she burst into tears after looking around Stanley Grange for the first time. ‘It was such an incredible place I knew Helen would be happy there, but I was so worried they wouldn’t accommodate her.’
As often is the challenge for parents of children with learning disabilities finding the right care can be difficult. ‘Nobody helps you; they do their best, but as parents you have to do all the research, make the calls, and fill out the paperwork. Even though Stanley Grange offered Helen a place, we still had to prove nowhere else would suit Helen’s needs like Stanley Grange.’
Pat and David (Helen’s parents) have spent their life ensuring Helen had access to the opportunities she needed. At 13yrs old realising Helen was missing education because of the 2hrs spent on transport to get to and from school, she became a weekly boarder at Alderbrook Special School (now Peak School) where she thrived and could be more independent and continue to learn.
Family is at the heart of Helen’s world and growing up alongside her sister Jane, Pat and David worked hard to ensure both girls had access to similar opportunities. ‘If Helen could do what Jane was doing or wanted to try and do it then she always would’. When Jane went to University, Helen went to Loppington House College in Wem, Shropshire where she spent 3 happy years surrounded by carers who expanded her horizons. From going to watch the football to horse riding Helen was able to do things ‘which may seem small to some people, but where huge for her.’
In 2000 after years of planning, at 21 Helen moved into what was meant to be her forever home, only for the care provider to sell their land and close the site a few years later leaving Pat and David 3 months to find Helen a new home. It was here that after hours of research and advocating for Helen, Pat and David visited Stanley Grange. After being accepted Helen moved into Stables, where she still lives today with five other adults in residential care with 24/7 support. ‘Helen is always smiling, she is always happy even at 3am!. Helen is very kind if you give her a bag of sweets, she will take them back to share with everyone.’
Helen’s days are spent enjoying the grounds of Stanley Grange, visiting the Garden Centre, participating in Fun Time Friday or one of the famous Stanley Grange discos alongside her housemates, friends and care staff. Helen loves music and in pre Covid-19 times enjoyed participating in off-site activities such as swimming and watching the football.
Finding a place where Helen would be stimulated and surrounded by lots of people was a key priority for Pat and David, knowing Helen thrived when she was surrounded by a community of people, and had the freedom to explore. Pat shared, ‘Helen has never been afraid to try new things, and she is very good at separating different aspects of her life. She loves coming home, especially when Jane, her brother-in-law Jeremy, two nephews and Monty the dog come to visit but is also more than happy to return to her life at Stanley Grange. Always letting Dad know ‘you go now’ once he has walked her to the front door.’
In 2019 Helen celebrated her 40th birthday and although typically she would have a party at home, and a party at Stanley Grange it was decided for a BIG celebration to bring everyone together at Community Hall. Pat and David recalled ‘she was just in awe, everyone together under one room that she loved, she didn’t know what to do, she had an amazing time.’
Helen lives a happy and fulfilling life at Stanley Grange and Pat and David are active members of the Friends and Family Forum, with David also serving as a trustee for the Stanley Grange Community Association.
‘We feel like we are building something special, not just for Helen but for all the other residents who live there, and for families who will benefit from Stanley Grange in the future. When we hit a new fundraising target and get to see the impact of everyone’s work there is a sense of pride in what we have achieved.’
Over the last 16 years, Helen has thrived at Stanley Grange. With a six sense of knowing when her parents are near, Pat and David shared with a smile, ‘you often hear Helen before you see her, we once crept on-site to complete some jobs before visiting Helen, but she must have sensed we were there and went out onto the green shouting ‘my daddy’.
When Helen isn’t taking part in activities, she enjoys helping in the preparation of meals and learning new skills. At Stanley Grange, Helen has enjoyed holidays alongside other residents travelling to Florida, Spain (just missing Pat and David in the airport!!) and Blackpool and in 2019 she joined the Stanley Grange Swim Team to raise funds for improvements to be made on the grounds.
When asking Pat and David to share how Stanley Grange has impacted their lives they said ‘For us, Stanley Grange gives us peace of mind, Helen is safe, well cared for and in a community where she is accepted and has the freedom to explore. For Helen, Stanley Grange is her forever home, a place where she knows everyone, and everyone knows her. She is challenged but supported and encouraged and has the freedom to experience new things. Most importantly though she is in a place that makes her happy.’
In 2018, Helen’s accommodation was updated thanks for the fundraising efforts of the Stanley Grange Community Association, click here to learn more about how these upgrades impacted the lives of other residents living with Helen.
On behalf of the Stanley Grange Community Association, we would like to thank Pat and David for everything they do to support the community at Stanley Grange and for sharing Helen’s story with us.
*We are committed to respecting the privacy of residents at Stanley Grange, and only sharing details relevant to individuals who have agreed to share their stories.