My name is Eddie, I live with my 2 good friends Rhys and Meilyr in a Mencap supported living house in Aberystwyth called Gwel Afon.
I have known Rhys and Mei for over 20 years, but sometimes it feels more like 30! I moved in to Gwel Afon 12 years ago. Rhys then moved in with me in October 2005. Mei then moved in to join us in December 2008. We have all got our own hobbies and interests.
I met Mei when I was doing a school play with him a lot of years ago. I have known Rhys even longer.
As we live together, we spend a lot of our time together at home. We usually bump into each other in the morning when everyone is in the kitchen. Meilyr is usually the first one up and out of bed because he starts work first. Mei is usually up and out of the house by 8am because he starts work at 9am in town.
I think we are all the same but different! Mei likes his history and horror movies. He is also really interested in walking and playing football. He walked Hadrian ’s Wall last year with the support of everyone at Gwel Afon. Rhys likes his heavy plant machinery, tractors, trucks and heavy metal. I like music like progressive rock, reggae and writing. I am in the middle of writing my own book called My Life, My Journey. It’s a work in progress but I am looking forward to getting it published one day.
I think we all get on so well together because we know when to give each other space and time alone. I think this is because we have known each other for such a long time.
When we have our tenants meetings we usually decide what we are going to do for the next month. We are in the middle of making a collage of photos that will go in the living room on the wall. We always have a great time at home, but some of the banter I couldn’t possibly repeat! Sometimes I go and watch film with Mei, but we all enjoy our own time and space.
I lost my dad at the end of August, and Mei also lost a family member. It was a very sad time but we all rallied round and supported each other. Having a good friend at home helped me get through a tough time, especially because that person had also gone through the same experiences.
I think friendship always changes, but spending so much time with someone (especially when you live with them) means that you get closer as friends. I think the important thing is that we all know when we need our own space.
Yes – we all have our own friends. We often have BBQ’s, birthday parties and get togethers. Everyone always wants to come and party with us at Gwel Afon. New Year’s eve is always a busy time – everyone wants to call over and see us. Any excuse to have a party here!
If you didn’t have friends you would be lonely and bored. Friends make up one big happy family here at Gwel Afon. I can’t imagine life without my friends.
No sadly it doesn’t surprise me that some people with a learning disability find it hard to make friends but I’m pleased to say that I have got loads of friends and don’t have to worry about this. I feel that it takes a lot of getting to know a person before you can call someone your friend. Other people might not find it so easy.
The only thing I struggle with is having access to certain places, which means it isn’t always as easy to meet new people. Being a wheelchair user can mean I can’t always get into some places.
If someone asked me how to make new friends I would show them how it’s done. I think it’s all about getting to know people and being able to trust them. The values of friendship are very important to me.
If I had moved in and didn’t live with Rhys and Mei, we might not have all met and got on so well. I think it made moving house much easier knowing the people that were coming to live with me. They are both friends for life!