Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Service users help appoint advocate
THREE men with learning disabilities have taken the reins at their residential home and helped appoint a new member of staff to speak out on their behalf.
The men, who live at Redlands residential home, on Woodland Road, Darlington, took part in a recent recruitment day, helping to interview hopefuls to decide which one should be taken on to act as their advocate.
After interviewing five candidates, the panel chose Alex Roles, a former mental health tutor.
She will work on behalf of VoiceAbility, a charity supporting people with disabilities, to act as a mouthpiece for them to ensure their opinions are heard.
Ms Roles will also be independent of Castlebeck - the owners of Redlands residential home - helping the residents with any legal, financial and practical issues they may have.
She said: “It was a really good idea to have them there to ask questions as you are the person they are going to be working with.
“I have never had an interview like that before, and they asked me all sorts of questions, like what makes a good listener, what do I enjoy doing in my spare time and what football team do I support.
“It is important there is always someone they can talk to in confidence. If they have an issue I will talk to them about it and make sure their opinions are heard.”
Panel member, Jeff Cornwell, said they chose Ms Roles because she was “nice and friendly.”
He added: “I enjoyed it. I liked talking and discussing things we like doing.”
Redlands provides a temporary home for adults with learning difficulties and staff work with residents to help them achieve their own personal aspirations, helping them to progress to supported living.
Don Cattell, service manager at VoiceAbility, who was also on the interview panel, said: “Whenever we can we try to involve the service users in selecting people as they are the people who are going to be dealing with them.
“The men on the panel really got involved in it and were very happy to be part of it and asked some very good questions.
“It is really important that the people who are going to be receiving the service have confidence in the people that are going to be their advocates.”