Miles from home and feeling isolated and lonely all David wanted was to go back to his roots… but with a visual impairment he needed somewhere that could cater for his needs.
As David reached adulthood he felt his eyesight getting progressively worse and, at the age of 21, he woke up one morning and couldn’t see the end of his bed. David was diagnosed with a couple of conditions – he has keratoconus (a progressive eye disease) and Irlen Syndrome (a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information).
David, 45, was born and bred in the Black Country but when he was 26 years-old he moved to Torquay where he saw another side to life. He made a new group of friends who knew how to enjoy themselves, and he had the time of his life… but, as they say, all good things come to an end. David spent six months training in plastic mouldings but, unfortunately, that job ended when funding ran out and he found himself out of work for around five years.
After five years in Torquay, David moved to Preston with his then girlfriend, but again, things didn’t go quite to plan and when that relationship ended he was left feeling isolated again. He took the decision to try his luck in Wales – moving to Llandudno. Things didn’t change much and David found himself falling into depression and it was only when he started going to a deaf/blind group that things slowly started to pick up.
He was persuaded to go along to a craft workshop and it wasn’t long before the person running the sessions saw how much he was benefitting from getting creative. David says: “I really enjoy just picking up a piece of chalk or a paint brush…I lost myself in the art which helped to take my mind off everything when I was struggling with my mental health. The craft sessions really sparked something within me and I was put forward for an art access course at the local college where I studied towards a diploma. Once I’d passed that, I went on to Wrexham University where, after three years of study, I graduated with a 2:1 in fine art.
“All the time I was studying, my mind was being kept occupied and I channelled all my negative energies into my paintings. But as soon as it was all over, those terrible feelings slowly crept back in and I was left feeling depressed and lonely again.
“I was also having to deal with a health scare and was back and forth to the hospital all the time whilst being tested for testicular cancer. Luckily I got the all-clear but in the meantime my depression was getting worse. And to make things worse, my first guide dog, Jazz, had to be retired following an attack from another dog. She was my best friend and with her gone I felt more alone than ever. I was without a guide dog for around four months and with the stress building again I decided it was time to make the move back home to Sedgley in the West Midlands.
“I spoke to my family and a few friends and Beacon Court was recommended to me. My initial application was rejected by the allocation panel because I was too young (the minimum age at the scheme is 55). And because I was living out of the area, the local authority said that I’d need to be living locally for at least two years before they could help me find somewhere to live.”
In the meantime Jo Wright, scheme manager at Beacon Court, was looking again at David’s application. Jo said: “When David’s initial application was rejected I spoke to my manager about his situation as I was sure that we could do something for him. Sometimes you have to question the rules and I felt that this was one of those times. We decided to invite him in for a chat and as soon as I met him I knew David would fit in at the scheme. He’s a lovely person and I made him an offer on the flat there and then.”
David moved in with JayPee (his very handsome guide dog) in March 2018 and says that he couldn’t be happier.
“From the moment we were shown around we loved the place. JayPee felt at home straight away – he lay down in the flat and didn’t want to come out! Being here is just heaven. This is my type of environment, I love being around people and chatting and I’ve got the privacy of my flat when I need it. Although I’m quite a bit younger than a lot of the other people here, it doesn’t feel that way at all. I love all the activities on offer and some of the conversations I have with the older customers remind me of my grandparents – which is a lovely feeling for me. Cooking breakfast isn’t my favourite thing so being able to stroll to the onsite café is the perfect solution, and being close to my family again means that they regularly come and visit me... the added bonus of this is that I get to see Jazz regularly (when she was retired, she went to live with my parents).
“I’ve ended up with the perfect place – the layout of my flat is ideal for my visual impairment – I’ve never had a flat as good as this. The whole scheme is brilliant for me - I’ve lived in places where you haven’t got onsite care so it’s great to have the peace of mind that someone is there if you need them. I’m now living in a place that I can keep on enjoying my life.”
Jo says: “ It’s really good to see that David has settled in so well – Beacon Court is obviously the perfect place for him and I’m so glad we decided to ‘bend the rules’ for him. I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the lack of suitable places for younger people with visual impairments so it’s great to be able to help David find a home where he can thrive and be happy.”