Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?

There are many books that I will never write, one of which is called ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me this before’. It would have been presented in the form of a conversation between to people, one of whom is full of anxiety having just discovered that their child has a learning disability, and the other is older and has a now grown-up child who also has a disability who has the same anxieties, but is strengthened by the knowledge with which they have armoured themselves with over the years.

In many ways I have no right to write that book, and that’s probably one reason I never will, but I’ve met so many families over the years at different stages of their journeys, managing in their own ways. Some struggle, while others thrive, despite (what seems to me to be) overwhelming odds and lack of support. Developing a network of comrades helps; a wide range of  professionals, support groups, family members, reliable friends willing and able to step in and help out when they need a break, and also friends who can be there to provide distraction; to sing with, swim with, have a glass of pop with… We all need allies.

As care farmers we can play a part in the support network. We can provide a non-judgemental place that people can be themselves, where they can explore their interests, expanding their horizons, building friendships in a way that, cruelly, our current society often makes it hard to do. It feels rather grandiose and possibly delusional to write it, but knowing their child has a place of security that they enjoy can be life changing for a whole family. As care farmers, if we get it right, we can change lives. How great is that!

I asked some people I admire what would be the one thing they would want for their children and I’ve listed them below. Some of these parents have children with learning disabilities, others don’t. As you can see, they pretty much all want the similar things irrespective of who their child is. As we develop our care farms, if we keep these goals in mind, it is much easier for us to help. I will mention many of these throughout this book because, as I write this book, I realise these are the sorts of things that have underpinned why we developed Clynfyw in the first place all the way back in the 1980s. We’ve come a long way since then…and there’s so much more to do!

‘I want them to cope when I’m gone.’

‘To be themselves, whatever unique individual person that may be.’

‘I would rather they fly happy than fly high.’

‘I want happiness for them or the ability to find some happiness whatever life brings them’

‘I’d like to say a more caring world, but I think Inner peace is a big thing. To be able to find calm and peace within yourself no matter what life throws at you.’

‘I would say a peaceful and safe future.’

‘I’d like them to be able to live peaceful, secure lives.’

‘That’s easy, respect from men and not to be objectified.’

‘Carers that care, genuine interests, happiness and perspective cost without one the other is impossible.’

‘Skills, knowledge and realistic options.’