Ryan has been attending Nickel support for five years now. Over these years we have all got to know his happy, energetic, kind, clever and lovable character. We have been chatting to his mum Annette about Ryan's experience at Nickel.
“Before Ryan started at Nickel he was facing several challenges, he had sustained a broken arm and had not accessed any services for seven months, he had lost his Nana who had been a major influence in his life and was undergoing changes to his routines and having to adapt to new carers. This had left him feeling very unsettled. In addition to this I had been diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, so it was a challenging time for the whole family.
“Ryan attended another organisation previously, it was a large organisation so could be a bit clinical and difficult to develop relationships with staff. It was difficult to book sessions, communication was not always good and it was an expensive service.
“Nickel is completely different to other services. When you join the team, you are welcomed into the Nickel family, you feel supported and cared for, and you are instantly comfortable that your adult son will be accepted and will be stimulated mentally, as well as physically. There is constant communication, if there are any behavioural issues, we can adopt the same strategy use within Nickel at home.
“I like Nickel as a service because there are a lot of working parts. They provide emotional support to the trainee’s parents and carers, they have also expanded the service to include upcycling, bath bomb making, baking, dance studio as well as the furniture shop and café. As the service is constantly evolving and growing Ryan continues to learn new work skills and develops his social skills.
“Through attending Nickel, Ryan has developed many friendships. Ryan and the family enjoy the social events like the ‘Nickels’ awards, and lunches for the parents and carers.
“In particular he has got to know and formed a good friendship with Kieran who he met at Nickel Support. They have since gone on holiday together and regularly go out together at weekends.
“Recently Ryan has formed a strong friendship with support worker Liam. There was a difficult stage when Ryan became very anxious and began to withdraw, becoming an elective mute. When Nickel reopened Ryan returned to Nickel and began working with Liam, he came home and gradually began to communicate again after a month. Ryan began to be more confident trying to talk to the other trainees, and talking about Liam at weekends. It was definitely a situation where Liam helped Ryan to find his voice and express himself freely.
“Nickel has been an integral part of Ryan’s development. They have helped him learn how to regulate his loudness, encouraging him to take time out, breath and calm down. They have provided Ryan with a framework to set boundaries, and reinforced positive behaviour..
“I have seen a real change in Ryan since starting Nickel, he has become more confident and he is enthusiastic about starting new projects. He is willing to try new activities and is comfortable with other trainee’s and tries to speak to them more. Both his physical and mental health has improved through the dance and Yoga classes.
“He is proud of being a Nickel trainee, so much so his Nickel t-shirt is hung up in his room from Sunday!
“Nickel has gone above and beyond to help us on several occasions. They helped with Ryan’s application for a blue badge and also assisted with Ryan’s Pip review. Also, when Ryan first joined Nickel he was recovering from an operation on his arm and my mum had recently passed away. On top of this I had been diagnosed with stage 3 aggressive breast cancer and was starting chemotherapy. Elena went out of her way to assist when I had hospital appointments, opening earlier for Ryan to go in or keeping him longer when I was running late. She was always available to provide emotional support for us both when needed.
“To anyone thinking about joining Nickel I would say it is like a big family, a place where adults with disabilities can meet their potential and grow and learn in a safe environment without being prejudged. I would not hesitate in recommending it.”
Thank you Annette for taking the time to talk to us about Ryan's journey with us.