First Person: Brigid Macdermid - Small things which make a big difference
My job involves helping people to get out and about in the community. I'd like to take this opportunity to give thanks to the people of Leicester who make my life easier in ways that they sometimes don't even realise .
So, many thanks to all the shopkeepers, receptionists and bus drivers who address my service-users directly and help them to participate in transactions or conversations at their own levels, instead of just looking at me as a carer and ignoring the service-user.
This helps enormously with people's self-confidence.
I have noticed a change since the Special Olympics in Leicester; people with learning disabilities are more integrated – if they can't speak they are given respect for their ability to sign or to nod at a choice of options.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
An example of this is the very patient lady at Waterstone's who was able to guess the sign for book and after three attempts worked out that a young man wanted to see a book about castles.
This took longer than if I had stepped in and translated the sign, but she made that man feel really proud to have got what he wanted through his own communication.
Other customers now seem more tolerant and willing to wait when a person with communication problems is in front of them.
Sometimes a particular act of kindness will touch me. For example, one Sunday I bought a hot chocolate from Muffin Break and sat down across the way to drink it with a service-user who had his own drink and packed lunch.
The lovely manager, Kelly, came over and insisted that we sat at the table and I was not to worry that it was only me who was purchasing the drink .
Whenever I go there the staff are always friendly and make sure there is space to get through if I am with a wheelchair-user .
Thanks also to the wonderful stall-holders at the market who burst into a spontaneous round of "Happy Birthday" for another young man, which spread from stall to stall.
A similar thing happened on the 54 bus once when a young child was singing nursery rhymes: the person I was with started clapping and I joined in the singing and soon half the passengers were either singing along or clapping.
The taxi drivers at the train station wind down their windows or even get out of their cabs to wave or shake hands with a taxi-spotter, although they know he is just looking and not a customer .
I wonder if Leicester is friendlier than other cities in the UK? I don't know.
But having lived for 13 years in France, I certainly appreciate the smiles, the doors held open, the drivers who wave you ahead and the "sweetheart, darling, duck" endearments that punctuate the speech of the people here .
Brigid Macdermid is a support worker for people with various levels of learning disabilities