As we celebrate World Human Right
s Day 2020, it’s worth remembering that human rights are not a remote issue in some faraway authoritarian country.
Some of the most shocking human rights abuses are taking place right here and right now, in places of “care” where people with a learning disability should be entitled to safety and support. It has happened time and again in institutions across the UK and Ireland.
That’s why Positive Futures is supporting this year’s theme of Human Rights Day: “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights.”
When the planet recovers from the coronavirus crisis, we want the voices of peop
le with a learning disability to be heard in rebuilding the post-Covid world.
Jackie (an Advocate, supported by Positive Futures) had this to say about Human Rights Day 2020:
“As we have heard in the news, the abuse of people with a learning disability is too common and people with a disability can be the forgotten victims of abuse.
But it does not have to be this way. People with a disability have a voice that must be heard when working for their human rights.
“I believe that people with a learning disability must be seen as leaders and be able to share their voice and opinions. There should be nothing about us without us.
“It is vital that we speak up now to make sure that we “build back better” to create a fairer society for everyone as we recover from the impact of Covid-19. There is still more work to be done as we work towards human rights for all, but people with a learning disability must be involved in leading the way.”
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, human rights begin “in small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person […] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”
The women we support in Manorhamilton, are digging in for a busy summer on the horticultural front after a lovely gesture by the North Leitrim Men’s Group.
The group delivered and installed a raised flower bed which they had made themselves. Since it arrived, we have received donations of plants to keep everyone busy and active as some coronavirus restrictions continue. After weeks of lockdown, it is just what people needed to promote positive mental health.
Our Chief Executive, Agnes Lunny, said: “We are very grateful to the group for thinking of the people we support, and for the time and effort they put into making the flower bed. Everyone is delighted. It’s even the ideal height for Sharon, one of the women w
ho uses a wheelchair. It’s wonderful to see Positive Futures and the people it supports becoming a valued part of the community in Manorhamilton.”
Since the donation of the flower bed, the NLMG have also produced a beautifully carved name plaque for their house.
From our Greater Dublin Service, a reminder that we’re all here to support each other, and that support can work both ways.
Senior Support Worker Megan Harman celebrated her birthday recently. After asking some pertinent questions about the date and about her favourite kind of cake, Aisling, who’s supported by the service, secretly ordered Megan a chocolate caterpillar cake in her online shopping and presented it on the day. She also sang Happy Birthday. It wasn’t Aisling’s only good turn. When she discovered that Carol, the Deputy Service Manager, had tested positive for coronavirus, she sent her a text wishing her well and saying she was looking forward to seeing her when she was feeling better.
Niamh Tormey, Service Manager, said: “Aisling is always thinking of others and goes out of her way to let people know that she cares about them. We’re all inspired by her and the fact that she is so happy with her support team makes me incredibly proud.
“We are very much looking forward to things getting back to normal and to helping Aisling progress her goals. One of them is to complete a college course we had applied for in February and which she was due to start before the coronavirus emergency struck.”
The pandemic emergency has had a huge impact on the way Positive Futures operates.
It has affected not just the people we support and their families, but also our staff and their families.
Fran Murphy, our Operations Director for the Republic of Ireland, said: “We are continuing to support people in our multiple sites of operation across Ireland. In some cases, where we cannot have face-to-face contact with the people we support, we are offering support by phone and video call and this has proven very successful.
“Our staff and the people we support have also had to get used to equipment that is not familiar, such as masks and other personal protection equipment. At all times, of course, we have been guided by the government directives and have been closely monitoring and addressing potential Covid-19 health issues.
“It takes a lot of hard work and collaboration to make it all come together. Keeping everyone safe and well is a challenging task but working together is what Positive Futures does best.”
SHARON’S A WINNER!
Our Saol Beo service in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, now boasts a Special Olympics medal winner.
Sharon, one of the three people supported at Saol Beo, picked up two medals at the event in June 2018 and is rightly proud of her achievement.
Support worker Ciara registered as a Special Olympics Ireland volunteer to enable her to support Sharon to compete. They first attended training in Swinford, Co Mayo, where Sharon showed a great sense of pride and determination. Then it was on to the launch event in Athlone.
As the big day approached, complete with Special Olympics Ireland tracksuit and accommodation booked in a hotel of her own choosing, Sharon made her way to Dublin. On arrival, she was able to do some shopping and meet other people taking part in the Special Olympics.
Staff at the event complimented her on her determination and effort as she took part in 10 Pin Bowling and the Wheelchair Push. She was thrilled to come away with two medals, which now enjoy pride of place – together with her Special Olympics badge – on her Wall of Fame at home.
She often chats about her time at the Olympics and the day Positive Futures helped her achieve one of her hopes and dreams.
Sharon is pictured with our Chief Executive, Agnes Lunny.
Our first Annual Consultation Exercise (ACE) among the people we support and their families/carers has found a high level of satisfaction with the services we provide, but highlights some areas for improvement.
People’s views were sought through questionnaires, peer-led interviews and a focus group.
The first of the six questions we asked was in relation to people’s happiness with the support provided by Positive Futures. There was a 100% approval rating from the people we support, while 93.75% of families/carers agreed.
The second was whether members of staff were well-matched with the people they support. Nine out of 10 of the people we support said yes, while the approval of families/carers was slightly lower at 84%.
In relation to whether staff always listened to what people wanted, 100% of people we support said yes, compared with 84% of families/carers.
Asked whether people felt safe with Positive Futures, 95% of the people we support said yes, while 100% of families/carers agreed.
In response to whether staff supported people to make their own choices, 95% of people we support said they did, compared with 93.75% of families/carers.
The final question, in relation to whether Positive Futures helped people to do the things they wanted in life, 90% of the people we support answered yes, while just over 84% of families / carers agreed.
Areas for improvement have been identified and will be addressed in an action plan. Some of these improvements, identified during initial feedback, are already under way. As a direct outcome of the ACE report, our top priorities are to:
· Maintain the high standard of care and support provided
· Improve communication between services and family members/carers.
The full ACE report, including direct quotes from people we support, can be read here. An easy read version can be found here.
During this unprecedented time, it’s been an inspiration for us to see how the people we support, their families and our staff and their families have responded to the situation.
We’ve seen the unleashing of some wonderful creativity in the last few months , so we thought we’d set a challenge, for anyone who wants to get involved, to come up with a piece of art that represents ‘The spirit of Summer 2020’.
If you would like to take part in our arty competition all you have to do is come up with an original creation between now and the 19 June. Your entry is limited only by your imagination, it could be a painting, a video, a poem, a story, a piece of music, or performance, or something you build, or sculpt, or anything else you can think of.
To enter, simply post a picture, or recording, of your entry on our Facebook Page (PositivefuturesIE in ROI, PositiveFutures95 in NI) by midnight on the 19 June.
Entries to our competition will be judged by a panel of the people we support, chaired by Tara Dunne, Tuath Glas Service Manager. The 3 that are judged to best represent the ‘Spirit Of Summer 2020’ will be announced on Facebook on 26th June and will win one of 3 Summer Picnic Hampers kindly provided by TESCO.
We hope you have fun coming up with your entries.
1. This competition is open to people supported by Positive Futures, their families, members of Positive Futures staff and their families
2. People may enter as a group as long as the names of the group members are listed when the entry is posted on Facebook
3. All entries must be posted on one of the Positive Futures Facebook pages before midnight on 19th June 2020, entries after this date cannot be accepted
4. The decision of the Judging Panel is final. No appeals will be heard.
5. Positive Futures is free to use the image/recording posted by each entrant in any way it deems fit in line with the mission and values of the organisation.
6. The 3 winners of the competition will be announced on 26 June 2020 through the Positive Futures Facebook Pages
7. Winners will receive their prize by mail after the close of the competition. No cash alternative is available.
A BIG THANK YOU FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Our Saol Beo Service in Manorhamilton has benefited from the generosity of the local community.
A Vintage Car and Tractor Run in the town, organised by the South Donegal Vintage and Heritage Club, raised an impressive €480 for our work. Staff Nurse Lorna Daly accepted the cheque on our behalf at an event in Ballyshannon. Other beneficiaries of the fundraising event were the North West Hospice and Arus Breffni Patients’ Comfort Fund.
Our thanks to everyone at the club for thinking of us.
Meanwhile, the Bee Park Community Centre in Manorhamilton has offered us the use of the centre for recreational and social activities – an offer which we’re delighted to take up.
It’s heartwarming that Saol Beo has become such an integral part of the community in such a relatively short time.