The significance of a long term relationships
June and I
My short story emphasises the vulnerability for many people with disability and in particularly for a lady that I have been a Citizen advocate for the past sixteen and a half years. During these years there have been many highs, lows, sad times and some very happy times for June and myself as we tried to work through many distressing times in her life.
Due to a crisis and a number of devastating events in June’s life I came into her life to become her Citizen Advocate. We initially had to attend many court appearances and engage with a variety of government departments. What I quickly came to realise is how most people we needed to deal with had no knowledge or understanding of how a person with an intellectual disability sees and views the world.
June was in a highly vulnerable place, she was confused with what was taking place in her life, had very little confidence or self-esteem, was scared, ‘terrified actually’ and had no understanding of what was happening, had no voice, and/or supports at all. Most of these departments not only did not listen to June. They had little or no compassion or empathy for her or her situation.
This led to us seeking legal advice. We were successful in securing a legal team (pro bono). They were the most amazing group of people that we got to know extremely well over the first few years.
I found that many of the parties we dealt with, in time, started to show June and myself some respect for what we were trying to achieve.
However, this was the total opposite of what June was receiving in the first instance. It was vastly important that I was in June’s life to became her spokesperson and to fight and defend her rights and importantly to have her voice listened to.
Over the years and basically having to educate the people we dealt with, we did see change in those people. They began to understand more of June and how she viewed and understood the world. This was a great help when ideas of support were being put in place.
June was struggling with many legal but also heart breaking issues and as I was getting to know her well I realised that she needed some type of diversion from her life of turmoil. I started to take her to the library to teach her how to use a computer, send emails etc. June loved this and it brought her pleasure. It was also a great distraction for her from all the struggles and loneliness she was dealing with. June later purchased a computer and the lessons continued in her home.
Sixteen and a half years later we are still friends. I still need to connect with various Government agencies and groups on her behalf, however they are all very helpful in providing positive outcomes.
Only recently it was highlighted the significance of our long term relationship when another ‘new staff member’ contacted me and was so happy that I could assist her with bygone events that have shaped the present. This enabled her to support June more appropriately without the need to drag up very sad recollections from June.
It is wonderful to see how June has connected with family members and has built strong relationships with her peers. What she can do on a computer these days is amazing to see. She is active in social media and has made many connections.
Today she is confident, has a healthy self-esteem and is enjoying life.
“We will be friends for many more years to come.”