Andrew is a very placid, amiable young 21 year old man with minimal behavioural issues. He lives at home with his mum, dad and sister. His mother is his primary caregiver and he has good relationships with his family. Looking to the future we want Andrew to have as happy and as fulfilled life as possible.
Andrew does not speak and this makes communication very difficult although he is able to answer simple questions with hand gestures or through his Ipad. Andrew is at extreme risk of mental health problems and increased social isolation. This, in my view, makes him an extremely vulnerable person who is not aware of the risks that face him or what risks that others pose to him and, because of this vulnerability, he is open to abuse or danger.
I met Andrew Denny when he was working with Andrew at Interact in Chelmsford. I have known him on a personal level for 4 years and was delighted when he first mentioned the idea of setting up a post 19 special needs provision. This came at the perfect time as Andrew was due to leave Columbus College and we didn’t know which direction to turn. Independence Project was born because of a realisation that there is a serious lack of provision for young people in Essex. The team at Independence Project wants to make a difference whilst raising awareness and giving people with special needs opportunities whilst enabling people to achieve independence.
I had looked fleetingly at other service providers but I didn’t want my son to be just another nameless “service-user” so it didn’t take me long to arrange for Andrew to start at Independence Project. Andrew has been attending Independence Project since September 2019 and has settled in so well. Andrew has built up trust and friendships with the staff. He has made friendships with the other young people who are of similar age to him. Independence Project not only supports the young person but the family as a whole and Andrew Denny himself is, and continues to be, an invaluable assistant in helping me to deal with social workers, professionals and funding related issues. Independence Project continued to support Andrew throughout the pandemic with virtual cooking sessions, quizzes, and fun activities via Zoom whilst we were isolating.
The difference that Independence Project has made to Andrew’s life is tangible and he engages in all the activities. Andrew is happy, safe and in absolutely the right place to grow and fulfil his potential. This is all we could possibly wish for Andrew and I am forever grateful to Andrew Denny and the team at Independence Project.