Photo: “Individualism and identity are an important part of being”

Hello, it’s Danielle again! This month I’m joined by Janet as we share with you our recent performance of ‘Help’ at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). 

Janet and I have been working together to create two separate versions of Help to share with student Social Workers training at MMU.

We decided to share this work because we both felt that it would help to educate future social workers on aspects of disabled people’s lives that they might not have considered before. 

This performance took place in March in MMU’s “flat”. The flat is a simulation space – a ‘pretend’ flat which is attached to an auditorium separated by one way glass (the audience can see in but the performers can’t see the audience, it kind of makes you forget that anyone is watching!).

The students use this space usually to play out scenarios and practice what they would do in certain situations. The flat was the perfect space for our performances as the setting really gave a true reflection of a real life situation and how both characters might live their day to day life.

Our characters, Rebecca & Jemma, both gave the audience an insight into what it’s like having to live your life with the help of another person and having to share the most intimate parts of your daily routine with someone else. It raised discussions and questions about what is ok to ask for help with? How do you create privacy & boundaries? How do you approach often uncomfortable subjects such as sexual needs?

The sharings both went really well and the discussions that took place afterwards raised some really interesting conversations. Janet was in the room for the discussion, here’s a little from Janet about what was said…

It was really interesting to hear the students discuss both Rebecca & Jemma’s situations. A lot of the discussion was around how the work made them think about the person as more than just meeting their physical and medical needs but to support them in a way that allows autonomy and choice around how they want to live their lives.

We discussed how disabled adults often feel infantilised and therefore unable to have the same opportunities as others to experience intimacy, sex and relationships because they don’t feel comfortable or able to ask for support from carers/PA’s.

It was great to be able to present these works, answer questions and give a lived experience perspective. The feedback on the day and since shows how our work has had an impact on how future social workers approach their practice throughout their careers and that they will hopefully be more open to conversations that they might have otherwise avoided.