#AbilitytoLove is our theme for this Valentine’s Day, to amplify the idea that individuals with disabilities want to be in relationships, want to be loved and want to be cared for in ways that surpass their day to day care.
Chris, 31, a person we support in Rickmansworth took the time to tell us about his lovely fiancée Steph and what love means to him. Chris and his fiancée, Steph have been together for 5 years. They met in 2015 at the local day centre they attend and became inseparable.
Speaking to Chris, it’s clear Steph makes him very happy, “I love her with all my heart”, he tells me. Steph, 29, who alike Chris has mild learning disabilities and down’s syndrome is also supported by Walsingham Support. Chris and Steph, like any young couple, have particular date days, “Our date days are Mondays and Wednesdays, we go for tea and coffee. Steph hates coffee, she drinks tea and only has milk”, he explains. “Sometimes, I buy her dinner and we go to posh restaurants, I get smartened up for her”, he adds.
Individuals with learning disabilities frequently find themselves omitted from the conversation, research shows that many people are not recognising or accepting that people with learning disabilities want and need personal and sexual relationships. We are here to support the people we support to live their lives to the full and to listen to their wants and needs, “They are happy together, I’ve seen Chris and Steph on my day off in town, walking and holding hands”, his support worker, Bukkie tells me.
Everyone is different, with different needs and abilities, for Chris and Steph, they have demonstrated that they have the ability to love. Our services are as unique as the people we support, and we work to increase their quality of life and happiness, so when Chris and Steph began to have relationship problems, our team stepped in. “Chris made it clear that he wanted to be with Steph, and he wanted the relationship to work, so we facilitated in the both of them seeing a relationship counsellor”, Bukkie explains.
Since then, things have looked up for the couple, last year Chris asked Steph to marry him in front of all their friends, “I bought her a gold ring, we’ve had ups and downs, but I still love her”, he confesses. It’s wonderful to hear about how we’ve supported to help Chris make connections with the people he chooses and, in this case, the person he’s chosen to love.
“For valentine’s day, I’ve bought Steph a rose and card”, Chris mentions and when asked what love means to him? His response?
“Love means protecting each other.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.