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Holiday of a Lifetime!

It was a holiday of a lifetime for William and one he will always remember when he went to New York in October last year.

Holidays are often thought to be quite straightforward and easy to organise, and most of the time they are, but when you have additional support needs, you’re going to the other side of the world and you need a fairly significant budget there is quite a lot involved and there definitely was in this long-term project.

William, who is supported with a mild learning disability, wanted to go to New York on holiday. New York is William’s city of birth. Quite a few staff at the Supported Living service in Leyton where William lives, supported him to achieve this goal, and it was this strong teamwork with William that finally made it happen in October 2016.

Here’s what staff and William needed to consider for this trip:

  • Supporting William to have the confidence to choose an independent holiday over a family holiday;
  • Supporting William to be patient, and careful with his funds over many months, so that his benefits could be saved to afford the holiday;
  • Supporting William to plan and estimate the cost of the holiday, so it could be approved by his financial deputy at the Town Hall and booked with the tour operator (William does not have financial capacity);
  • Persuading William that a solo holiday with staff from the supported living service where he lived was unaffordable, and that a supported group package from a specialist tour operator might work for him: it would also have the upside of meeting new people, and an increased feeling of independence (by chance, another person in supported living with Outlook Care, a friend of William’s, turned out to be on the same trip, and this upped William’s confidence about going);
  • Practical matters such as completing forms for William to sign, keeping the Town Hall informed, liaising with the tour operator;
  • Some support needed to be thought about well in advance of departure, such as payment of deposit, William’s passport and visa;
  • Some support needed to be thought about a few weeks before departure, these included spending money/foreign currency, new clothes, luggage, medication, preparing support documentation for the holiday, ie support plan, risk assessment, missing persons;
  • Some support took place in the last week, for example laundry, packing, deciding what to wear for the journey, making sure staff were aware of support arrangements for travel to and from airport, etc.

Support was nearly over when William was called on at 2.00 am to get the taxi to the airport (he had not been to bed he was so excited). A few last minute checks of passport, documents, money, hand luggage, suitcase and he was off.

At the airport William met up with his party easily enough and after introductions and handing over of documents, passport, money, William was left with his group. New York would soon be experiencing William’s beaming smile!

William had a fantastic time and visited lots of amazing places. We’re all so pleased we could help make it happen!