My name is Jake Millward. I’m a big Steps fan and I recently represented Mencap at a glitzy awards ceremony. I am a 33-year-old man and I have a mild learning disability, as well as cerebral palsy. Mencap has supported me for four years – I have 18 hours of support a week.
I part-own my house in Norton, near Doncaster, in partnership with an organisation called Advance Housing. Mencap supports me in my home with minor repairs and gardening tasks, such as mowing the lawn and general upkeep.
Mencap also supports me in the community with social activities. I am very independent and have lots of interests, including tenpin bowling and being involved with a walking group, a history group and an IT group.
I also volunteer with the Countryside Rangers on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Through this, I have recently helped to create a memorial garden in my local park.
This April, I went to the Steps reunion concert at the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena, which I really enjoyed. I’ve always been a big Steps fan, so I was very excited when I heard about the reunion tour and ordered two tickets straight away. Jenna, a support worker, came with me. The performance was brilliant – they were better than ever.
I also really enjoy going to the cinema with my friends. My favourite films are action adventures. I have just been to see Avengers Assemble with my friend, David.
My confidence has grown since I have received support from Mencap and because of my volunteering work. This has helped me to use public transport more easily and to feel more confident when I go to places like the bank.
I have a really good relationship with my two support workers and my local Mencap manager – they encourage me to get involved in lots of activities. I have been on the interview panel for new Mencap support workers and have been asked to attend a Mencap open day to talk to people about the support I receive.
The past year has been really positive for me. Before Christmas, I entered Mencap’s New Year, New Me competition – I wrote about my hopes and dreams for 2012. I felt great when I was told that I was the regional winner of the competition.
Black tie event
One of the highlights of the past year was being invited to attend the Independent Specialist Care Awards in London, in January. Mencap sponsored the awards, so I was invited to represent the charity.
I travelled down to London with my support worker and a person from Barnsley called Kylie, who also gets support from Mencap. We were dressed to impress in our best black tie. The whole experience was brilliant, from the rail journey, to the hotel and the night itself. Most of all, the people were lovely.
I have always wanted my own dog, so Mencap supported me to apply to the Guide Dog Association for a retired guide dog – I wanted to give a dog a new lease of life. My application was successful and earlier this year I adopted a seven-year-old labrador called Quaker. He has really settled in to his new home and I love taking him for long walks – he’s helping to keep me fit.