Sheldon Griffiths is an Outreach Worker with Mencap Liverpool, a local independent charity that promotes equality for people with a learning disability.
Sheldon’s work mirrors Mencap Liverpool’s aim, helping people to discover new opportunities, make new friends, and feel valued and safe in their community.
“It’s all about helping people to connect…many of the people who use our service (members), have felt isolated and helpless.
“We are required to liaise with a variety of agencies and professionals such as, social services, mental health services, person centred planners, psychologist, police and parents and carers…with the main objective being to encourage people with LD to be more active in their communities and expand their social network, thus reducing feelings of isolation”.
“Every person and case we try and support is different as you might expect. Sometimes, the biggest difficulty can be explaining how we can help, when someone is already feeling anxious.
“That said, it’s a very satisfying job that I have…when you’ve managed to helpsomeone feel comfortable to begin engaging with our services, then you watch their personal development…there’s nothing more rewarding.
“Sometimes, a little more than meets the eye goes into achieving an outcome like that. It can take a few meetings to establish the kind of help a person needs. I’m fortunate in being surrounded by a great team that coordinate and deliver some great projects which enables me to create action plans that enable members to work towards any specific goals.
Mencap Liverpool offer a wide range of opportunities for members to engageincluding the chance to join a variety of social groups plus options for those with pressing issues such as mounting debts. We have done some good work with and forged good links with the financial inclusion team at the central Citizens Advice Bureau.
“As an outreach coordinator, I support members integrate with all of these different services but the role goes beyond this…i also advocate for individuals to ensure that their voices are being heard and their rights are protects.
“Previously role has involved supporting members to access adult learning opportunities, providing in-class learning support for individuals overcoming difficulties with reading and writing. In addition, support may extend to safeguarding issues that around the continuum of abuse, for example, financial or sexual in orientation. People with learning disabilities can often find themselves in vulnerable situations and may have been victims of crime when we meet them for the first time.
“Equally, there is an over representation of people with a learning disability that have become ill or even die prematurely from preventable illness . This takes many forms with depression commonplace accompanied by poor diet. We aim to have a holistic approach to working with members, firstly by addressing a specific issue, for example, isolation. This may come in the form of group or one to one sessions but ultimately, it’s about engaging in dialogue with us and identifying any other aspects of their lives they wish to improve or address. It’s this communication that helps create the path to progress for so many people.”
Sheldon maintains that his job isn’t just about helping people and advocating for them.
“We actively promote self-advocacy…seeing people taking responsibility for aspects of their own lifestyle such as nutrition by for example, asking for what they want to eat is very rewarding for me. I want to improve people’s lives in a simple way. And there’s nothing better than witnessing people sustain a better life through our help and the work we do.”