December 10 2013 Latest news:
Beth Wyatt, Reporter
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Collier Row mother Muriel Warner knows more than most about the impact learning disabilities can have on people.
For her daughter Rosalyn, 50, has been disabled since birth, suffering from limited movement in her right side and “horrible” epileptic fits.
However, thanks to the Havering Learning Disability Society, Muriel has been able to access support throughout her daughter’s life and provide her with opportunities to grow in confidence and socialise.
The struggles of individuals like Rosalyn were highlighted last week through National Learning Disability Week.
Muriel, of Redriff Road, said: “Her disabilities are very life-restricting really, it is hard to take her out anywhere and the epilepsy is horrible, although she is on good medication at the moment.
“People who aren’t used to it get very worried about the fits and don’t want to see that sort of thing.
“The club was the first group to offer these children somewhere to go and they are able to make lots of friends.”
Muriel, who lost her husband Frederick 25 years ago, heard about the society through a friend who had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome and Rosalyn has been attending its events since she was a teenager.
When Rosalyn was aged one, she was found to have some brain damage, which has caused the condition called hemiplegia which affects her right side.
Her epilepsy was only discovered when she began having fits aged four and she had to receive treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Muriel, who has another daughter, Elaine, 57, added: “You don’t expect to be looking after children aged 50 when you’re my age.
“It is hard work, I have to wash and dress her and she can’t read or write.
“She looks very bright, never complains and has a fantastic memory, but when you ask her to do a simple thing you then have to keep repeating it.
“The club gives us a break and the children come out of their shells. It is a lifeline for them.”
The society has been helping people like Muriel and Rosalyn for decades and will celebrate its 65th anniversary with an event this autumn.
It was founded in 1948 in Dagenham by a group of parents and friends and is now based in Victoria Hall in Victoria Road, Romford.
Chair Sandra Killion, 60, said: “It was set up because parents thought there were no recreational clubs for their sons and daughters, nowhere to meet with friends.
“In that time they didn’t have as many things going on, they’d be put into [boxes of] mental health conditions and there was a bit of a stigma.
“I feel very proud about the anniversary as we are all volunteers.”
Sandra, who does not have any children, joined the organisation over 40 years ago and has been its chair for 10 years.
Prior to that, she was the vice-chair.
The society holds a popular club on Mondays, where people go to socialise and enjoy activities such as playing snooker, making crafts and listening to music.
There is also a swimming club on Saturdays, monthly discos and various outings.
Sandra, whose husband Martin is also involved with the organisation, said: “The society is like a big family, we have over 200 members and because the events are so popular we always have a waiting list.
“I hope it will be going for many years to come.”
Muriel added: “I do wish people would appreciate what Sandra does more, she is an absolute star.”
For more information on the society or to register an interest in becoming a volunteer, email Sandra on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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