When I was at Secondary School I was bullied. Even though it was a school for kids with special needs, I was vulnerable and I didn’t know how to say no. Now, working as a Peer Advocate, I use my experiences to help other kids with learning disabilities stand up to the bullies. I know how vulnerable, and sometimes gullible, people with learning disabilities can be, and I want to help them.
I got my job with Advocacy for All three years ago, and every Wednesday I go back to the school I was bullied at, and run sessions for their school Peer Support Group called Speaking Up. In this group we try to help the kids speak up about things that are worrying them. We do lots of role play; acting out situations they may have to face, so we can help them learn to say no. We even made a video showing them how to say no, and telling people how wrong it is to make fun of people with learning disabilities. We are trying to help them have a better life where they can speak for themselves and not get spoken for, and where they can make their own choices.
I’m also doing a project on Hate Crime, with a campaign in Bromley to get people to stop using the words like retard and spastic. I want to make things better for people with learning disabilities; I love my job and I love helping people.
âWhen I met him James was volunteering and it was obvious he’s got that caring side to him. It is fantastic how far he has come with this job; he’s using his skills, and he’s grown in confidence, and he’s rightly very proud of his work. He’s fully integrated in the school he works at, he goes to staff team meetings, management meetings, and he’s really making a difference to the kids there.â Martin McGibbon, Service Manager FitzRoy Selby