We had three guest speakers for the evening: Tommy, Pam and Kate from My Life My Choice told us about the great work of this self-advocacy organisation with over 500 members across Oxfordshire. The organisation was set up in 1998 and won a Big Society award in 2013. Pam has been a member for 5 years and Tommy for 3 years. Kate works for the charity as a fundraiser.
Tommy and Pam are both members of the training team at MyLife My Choice. The team members all have learning difficulties and they provide training for groups such as GPs, university staff and students as well as others providing services for those with learning difficulties. They aim to show others that people with learning difficulties can lead interesting and useful lives.
My Life My Choice is a self-advocacy organisation: all the charity’s trustees have learning disabilities and the projects are run by people with learning disabilities. One of these projects is the Stingray Club – a monthly nightclub run since 2007. Another is Sting Radio – a radio station with DJs from My Life My Choice, who present the show, set the content, interview the guests and develop their communication skills while having lots of fun. It is a great way to be heard, with over 300 listeners and we were invited to provide a guest for a future show. Tommy told us how as lead DJ on one show he had been interviewing an MP who kept avoiding the questions. However Tommy persisted until the MP ‘cracked’ after 20 minutes!
Tommy has been a member of My Life My Choice since he was 18. He has made new friends, built his confidence, has fun and has met David Cameron! He is a trainee at the Yellow Submarine cafe in Oxford.
My Life My Choice runs a Travel Buddy Scheme. This helps people to build their confidence in using public transport and the buddies as well as the ‘buddied’ are all members of My Life My Choice. In an environment where funding for taxis and minibuses is very limited, it is great that people are supported in such a way to give them the independence that they want in their daily lives.
Photo – left to right : Steve and Rich, both from Oxford Spires, Pam and Tommy both from My Life My Choice.