Erin has grown up with LinkAble, joining us at five. She is now 20.
We caught up with Erin’s mum, Bridget, to talk about Erin’s journey with us.
My daughter Erin has attended LinkAble for 15 years, starting with the children’s groups, transitioning to teens and now attending adult groups. This means LinkAble has been there at nearly every stage of her development. Erin has a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome and Autism, and so is sensitive, needing a lot of reassurance and support from me.
LinkAble is everything to us. It really is. We would be lost without it. I know for many parents, LinkAble provides respite, but it doesn’t so much for me, as I don’t need it. What LinkAble provides for us is all about Erin. It’s a place where she is valued and celebrated. All the things she brings to the table are celebrated and the things she finds difficult are supported with patience. The staff take their time with her and have built such a connection with Erin. They just seem to have a gift. I asked Erin what she loves about LinkAble, and she said, "It's my home. I love it".
LinkAble has given Erin independence and identity away from her mum, which is vital - she knows people I don’t know! When Erin was young that didn’t exist in her life, and I think it’s so important for her independence and her identity. When you have a child with special needs you know everything about every part of their life, so for her to have some relationships that are just hers, that’s priceless.
Music is a massive part of Erin’s life; it’s how she learned sentence structure. She always knows the latest music - the minute something drops, she is on it! Before the pandemic, Erin was too young to attend Mayhem, LinkAble’s club night for adults with learning disabilities. Then after the pandemic, LinkAble had struggled to find a new venue for Mayhem, so when it finally came back at the end of 2022, Erin was over the moon. She screamed the house down! Erin told me that she absolutely loved Mayhem and is already looking forward to the next one, saying, “It was great, so fun. The music was cool, and the DJs were good”.
LinkAble is helping to normalise learning disabilities in our community through running regular trips to places across Woking and the surrounding areas. This visibility helps our community become more used to seeing people with learning disabilities participating in the same experiences that we all enjoy. This is one of the things that I really love about LinkAble.
I don’t really have the words to describe what LinkAble is to us. It’s such a big part of our life. If we were going to move house, one of the main factors in choosing a location would be how close we were to LinkAble. That’s how much it means to us.
There are lots of fun and welcoming LinkAble groups looking for new members.