A brave new world of independence.

Heading to University is a daunting experience for most students, but as someone that required essentially a great deal of assistance going about my daily life – heading to University was going to be completely life-changing, one that would see me not only living away from home for the first time but also away from those family and friends that acted as my safety blanket – helping me have an independent life.

I was off to Warwick University to embark on a degree in Management (business) Studies – and I was all too aware I was heading somewhere that no one knew me, where there may preconceptions and stereotypes of disability that someone may have in their head when they first met me, that would have to be broken down.

“a freshers week full of mandatory pints of snakebite, loud music and late night trips to Tesco with a great bunch of flatmates – the university experience was very much underway!”

My apprehension was short-lived, as when I arrived at my halls for the first time I quickly forgot all about any concerns I may have had, with a freshers week full of mandatory pints of snakebite, loud music and late-night trips to Tesco with a great bunch of flatmates – the university experience was very much underway!

At University, I had two live-in carers living in adjacent hall rooms to me each year, sourced by the organisation CSV (Community Service Volunteers). This meant that the carers I had were with me for a gap year style life experience, with various motivations including learning English, avoiding other forms of national military service (Germany), or to enhance university applications for the following year. They were all pretty much the same age as me and essentially were university students for the year, without having to study (something that I occasionally needed to remind myself, as we filled our days with university fun, and I put off impending deadlines and exams!).

My room was adapted to my needs, so I was able to access my desk, bed and bathroom myself for the first time from my wheelchair (previously I had shuffled everywhere on my bum, and so everything at home was similarly on the floor).  I had door opening devices into my block at halls – and my accommodation was only a few minutes away from the central campus, the business school, and the student’s union. Suddenly everything I needed was instantly accessible, and the independence I had gained was incredible.

As well as studying, I made the most of the opportunities that were available at University, continuing my passion for music by joining the University Big Band, setting up a Drumming Society and going on International tours to Jazz festivals across Europe. I developed my passion for Marketing by helping promote various musical productions and charitable causes, making friends from all over the world that are still some of my best friends to this day.

“never underestimate the impact that personal assistants and carers can offer to independence, allowing so many to lead a rich and fulfilled life”

University opened up a world of opportunity to me, it gave me the confidence and enthusiasm to carry on following my passions in Digital Media and Marketing and live independently – pushing for greater access and inclusion in everything I do.

The carers I had at University have stayed lifelong friends, with me even flying over the USA to be a groomsman at one of their weddings. They were fundamental to my incredible experience at University, I will never underestimate the impact that personal assistants and carers can offer to independence, allowing so many to lead a rich and fulfilled life.

Dom’s excellent Marketing and Design agency can be found here

 

https://www.tinyman.digital/

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