This week we had a request for a state-of-the-art, side-by-side tricycle.
It made me remember a Royal Mencap “Serious About Sport” event held in Battersea Park one sunny Sunday a few years ago.
A wonderful colleague, Monica Rivers, had charmed and persuaded someone to lend 5 or 6 adapted cycles. It was a secret (for fear of disappointment) and therefore a complete surprise when I found out my job for the day was “accompanying cyclist”. This meant co-cycling around the perimeter of Battersea Park with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).
That day was packed full of accessible fun. And I remember something else too; the interest and even envy of onlookers in the park. People who might be embarrassed or feel distanced because of a person’s disability found themselves drawn to that person, and wanting to share in the fun.
I have always enjoyed cycling and to be honest I would find it hard to think of a better thing to spend money on. Obviously I was ready to say yes, but that is not my job. The request would require Board approval, so I began to draft an e-mail detailing the request.
This meant finding out more about how the Trust Team knew that I would enjoy a trike, and how affordable it was (wherever possible the Board require that funds should last the beneficiary’s lifetime).
And as I looked a story emerged that goes to the heart of how the Mencap Trust Company operates.
Adam* is severely autistic with very limited communication and epilepsy. He lives in a specialist residential centre well equipped to deal with his conditions. He is constantly on the go, and enjoys being outdoors as much as possible.
When his mother died 10 years ago, instead of flowers, her best friend asked that there be a collection to buy Adam a tricycle. That trike was no longer useable and this was a request for a replacement.
The request was made by Adam’s physiotherapist and his key worker. Together they had researched options finally choosing one that best suited his physical needs as well as the practicalities of storage and use.
The Board answered within 2 hours of receiving the e-mail. "Yes", and did we have a photo of the trike? A bit of housekeeping to finish; price checking, how was it to be insured, and how it would be safely stored. And the payment was on its way.
I cannot wait to see the photo’s of Adam on his tricycle. It is a reward for his energy, enthusiasm and love of life. It tells me that his mother’s wishes continue to be met through the Trust’s support of Adam. It demonstrates the commitment and skills of his support staff, who are working to understand what Adam wants.
And without a discretionary trust in place who knows if this money would have been available for such a gift. It is well beyond the public purse, or the purse of most family and friends.
*Adam is not his real name. This has been done to protect his privacy.