Guest blogs

A chance for guest bloggers to let us know about their stories, thoughts and experiences

Guest Blog: Sarah’s salty sailing stories 

Sailing shipget2gether posted an article about the BBC programme No Passengers on Facebook.

Sarah commented: I’ve been on a ship similar to the Lord Nelson

get2gether commented: This sounds great, do you want to tell us more?

Sarah said: Yes, I could do a blog about it …

… and here it is …

Sarah, how did you find out about this opportunity?

When I went for the first time, it was part of my Duke of Edinburgh award. I loved it so much, I went back again. So far I’ve been on four trips:

Map of Europe

  • Nice, France to Alicante, Spain – on this trip I saw Elton John’s house
  • Jersey, Channel Islands to Dublin, Ireland
  • Oban to Edinburgh (Scotland) – on this trip our ship moored next to the Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Monaco to Monaco (France) – on this trip I walked along the Formula One race course

Are these journeys suitable for everybody?

jstYes, absolutely, there were able bodied people and people who were wheelchair users. I climbed up the rigging myself, but if you are a wheelchair user, they pull up the wheelchair with ropes – although the people doing it need to be quite strong. There are about 20 – 30 people on board, it’s like one big happy family from all over the world and you are being paired up with a buddy. They will support you with all the sailing stuff.

Check the Jubilee Sailing Trust website to find out more.

Tell us about a typical day on board

First thing in the morning, the captain gives an update about the route and where we stop. Then the watch leaders have a meeting and they tell everybody their task of the day – it changes daily.

I know what a captain does, but what about watch leaders?

Sarah steering the shipWhen you are on watch, you are not just watching, but looking after the ship and steering it. For four hours at a time. Usually eight people keep an eye on the water. Two people on the left, two on the right, two people are steering and two at the back of the ship. Half an hour before you finish your watch, you wake up the next shift as the ship is sailing for 24 hours. And we were trying to sail as much as possible, rather than using the engines.

What else?

Everybody took part in happy hours – but this isn’t drinking cocktails! It’s tidying up the boat, washing the decks and cleaning the toilets. But as a reward you’ll get a tea break and loads of cakes. There are two chefs on board. Some people are on mess duty. That means they are helping in the kitchen and get their dinner earlier than the rest of the crew.

Tell us more about life on board

We all sleep in the same bedroom, in bunk beds with very little space. It’s very tight, but not uncomfortable. In the lower mess you can play board games and eat dinner. In the upper mess you eat when you are on watch duty.

I also learned new expressions: “Come up” means: drop the rope. “Two six” means: pull the rope. And you reply with “heave”.

And you wear oil skins, which are waterproof, and wellies.

What was the weather like?

Some days nice, sometimes the storms were quite rough. We even sailed through a really stormy period, which was very close to a hurricane.

Did you get seasick?

We all got quite seasick. And we got special belts to clip onto the ship for safety reasons. It was both exciting and nerve-racking.

What was your best experience on the ship?

We saw killer whales and dolphins that swam right beside the boat to see what was going on. Also, the sunrises and sunsets were quite amazing.

Any funny stories?

When we were back at the port, we were still walking like we were still on the boat. Which felt very funny and probably looked weird.

Would you do it again?

Yes, definitely, it’s an experience of a lifetime. It’s expensive, but you can get grants. You’ll meet great people and on the last night you all go for a meal together.

 

 

Guest Blog: A conversation between Nicola, Keith and Mojca

Stay Up Late with get2gether @ ATIK!

Mojca: So, get2gether had its first club night in the totally new, refurbished CAV … pardon, ATIK!
How are we going to get used of the new name?

Nicola on the right
Nicola on the right

Nicola: We just have to stick to the new name! I thought changing the name was a good idea, just as we change themes for our get2gether club nights.

Keith on the left
Keith on the left

 

 

 

Keith: I think it is OK, we can get used to it; but the problem is going to be with the taxis as they know this place as the Cavendish!

 

Mojca: You’re right, we just need to stick with it – ATIK, how was it?

Nicola: I thought this was really good, I really like what they have done in the back room …

Keith:  … and the toilets are great, they look a bit like Harry and Potter! You know, black  and white!

Nicola: Ooh, and the chairs! You know, the big chairs and the layout, really good!Atik logo

Keith: And the highland cows –mooo!

Nicola: The short life working group could play with all of that for the theme for the Christmas club night!

Keith : That’d be cool. Perhaps something like Santa meets nature! But I’m also really looking forward to the next club night in August, which is going to be movie themed!

Mojca: And the night itself, how was the music?

Nicola: I really enjoyed the 80s,  it’s one of the best eras for dressing up!

Dressing up 80s style

Keith: It is my favourite, and I love all kinds of music from the 80s, but I really enjoyed hearing ABBA and Michael Jackson!

 

Mojca: What else had been happening? I have heard that Nicola, you were involved with promoting  the Stay Up Late Campaign?

Nicola: Yes on the night there were two promotion tables – one was from CREW  – who have information on alcohol, sex and drugs and the other one was about Stay Up Late with get2gether. I would like CREW to come back next time as it is important to keep safe and healthy.

Stay Up Late Card frontA lot of people came up to the Stay up Late table too, we had green cards and stickers. Green cards were very popular. The Stay Up Late campaign is for people to understand that they can stay up late – it’s their choice, and to let their support staff know if they want to stay out in a club till the end – or later! Now they can use the green card to tell their support staff that they want to stay up late.

Mojca: Keith, what do you think about this campaign?

Stay Up Late Card backKeith: Some people like to stay till the end, and some don’t, that’s OK. I think this time more people stayed up till the end than usual. People should be proud and confident to say they want to stay till the end. Next time I would like to stay till 1am! We want to party in the ATIK till 1 in the morning!

 

Mojca: The Reluctant Penguin Productions was also around filming on the night – did you get involved with that as well?

Nicola: Yes, Emma from the Reluctant Penguin Productions was asking people what they think about ATIK and she also asked me about Stay Up Late. I told her that it is very important that people do what they want to do. And WE WANT TO STAY UP LATE, enjoy ourselves, dance, have fun and be part of nights out at the ATIK!
I really enjoyed being filmed and I’m looking forward to seeing what people have to say, if they have any feedback or comments.

To see the footage from the club night – and interviews with Nicola, Sarah, DJ Hotwheels, DJ Andy, Carlo, Martin, Keith and Amy click on the links!

Stay up Late Nicola

 

Guest Blog: Megan from Enable Scotland

We asked Megan to write a wee blog post for us.

Enable logo

Megan works for ENABLE Scotland and they offer a wide range of services to ensure that people who have learning disabilities can live the life they want and actively participate in their community.

One of their services is supporting people to find a job.

Megan explains:

What can we do to help you?

  • Writing a CV and Cover Letter
  • Looking for jobs and applying
  • Getting in touch with employers
  • Interview guidance
  • Organising work trials and experience
  • Support specialised for you
  • Advice and Signposting
  • Continued support when in employment
  • Help you progress further in your employment

 When can we help you?

  • If you are over 16 years old
  • If you live within the Edinburgh City Boundaries
  • If you have a disability or long-term health condition

If you would like any information about All in Edinburgh, please contact:                                                      

Call: 0300 0200 101 or email: info@allinedinburgh.org.uk

Check out their website.

All in Edinburgh logo

 

Guest Blog: Emma McCaffrey

emma filmingYou may have seen me at get2gether’s Wild Ceilidh Stramash with my cameras and seen my video on YouTube, directed by me and another co-founder Mark Howie.

 

I joined get2gether in early May and made the film Wild Ceilidh Dancing. I am so far enjoying going to the events as I like meeting new people and experiencing night outs which I up to this point, have never done.

I am an actor for Lung Ha theatre company, a tenor horn brass player for a Salvation Army Band and the leader of a children’s puppet ministry team.

reluctant penguin pictureI write my own stories, plays and I’m teaching myself Japanese. And I am also a co-founder and chief film editor and visual artist for a non-profit film production called the Reluctant Penguin Productions. 

 

How it all started

As a learning disabled actor/performer, I am always seeking new things to do and one thing that I and several other actors wanted to do was film acting. We were inspired by Karen Sutherland’s film Buggy Off and several other members of Lung Ha who had taken part in good quiet films. As a former film student, I had the equipment and so in March 2017, I filmed and uploaded our first film “Yui’s Unique Adventure” and it took off from there.

Buggy Off

 

 

 

 

The Reluctant Penguin Productions is primary a YouTube channel where performers with disabilities can showcase their talents on the internet which they can then show to family, friends or hopefully someone who will notice their potential. As the up-loader, I do not receive any payment whatsoever and the performers themselves are filmed voluntary.

What’s my role?

emma at the BruntonAs the person with the cameras and editing equipment, it’s my job to film and then create a film people want to watch. I must also take into consideration the people I am filming. All the actors/performers in the films choose the film ideas and where and when we are recording and they can also overrule any ideas I may put forward. I also act in my own films if I have an idea myself.

All actors/performers are volunteers and I do not go looking for “skilled” performers. I am only interested in people who want to make a film and what ideas they want. My job is simply to try and deliver the idea they want. I have done monologues, interviews, fake vlogs, animation and life stories. I’m interested in filming musicians and dancers as well as actors or anyone who simply wants to take part in some way.

Although the website shows a couple of people who have co-founded the YouTube channel, this is really a one person job when it comes to the editing and overall look of the video. I take care editing the films to try and make it watchable for all and make use of subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing.

Are you interested in making a film?

If you are interested in making a film, you will be asked to send an idea. You will then be asked what music you’d like, what mood and how you yourself want to be seen in the film. I will discuss ways to reach those ideas and get them to work. If you want to perform on camera, you will be subjected to me directing you on occasion which can be very tiring. Performing to camera is tough but the final outcome is usually always the best part. I try to keep things interesting and bring a friendly atmosphere.

Once the video is uploaded, I will also create a page dedicated to it and another page on the artist. The co-founders have their own page.

Emma and Mark
Emma and Mark, co-founders of The Reluctant Penguin Productions

If you want to get involved in performing in your own film, all you have to do is message me through the Facebook page or get in touch via get2gether. We will then set a time and place to meet to discuss your idea and find a way to do it.

Filming is hard work …

… but it is a lot of fun and it usually is not a long process. Most of our filming takes place within under two hours when both performer and myself are on set and ready. Improvisation and change of ideas is welcomed and I will deliver the best film I can do with the footage we get.

Please like our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We hope to continue this project to get disabled artists out there and/or just to give anyone the opportunity to star in their own film.

I hope I hear from some you. See you at other get2gether events!

Richard Coxon, actor, who e-mailed us directly with an idea for a film.

 

 

Sylvia is get2gether’s newly appointed Deputy Manager and … well, see what she has to say:

Hello everybody!

Have we met already?

Sylvia and Karen
Sylvia with get2gether’s Ambassador Karen

I’ve been with get2gether for a while and although my role is mainly office based, I’ve been to quite a few events. I love being at events and getting to know you, the get2gether members. Seeing people enjoying themselves and having a great time is what makes my job so worthwhile.

I’m also the one who’s constantly asking people if they want to write a guest blog post for us. Well, at the last Steering group, the group decided it’s about time that I write a post myself.

Do you agree?

Here you are:

I joined get2gether in June 2015 for a job I really love. I had always wanted to work for a charity and applied many times, and eventually this small charity gave me a chance.

It just shows that you shouldn’t give up when you’ve got a dream job – you might remember Katrina’s blog post? She was talking about never giving up in more detail.

Big Lottery cheque
Big Lottery cheque

I love that this role is so varied: I do the general admin (dealing with e-mail and phone enquiries, membership admin), banking, money, stuff like social media, helping out at events and I also help with funding applications. And now that I’m Deputy Manager, I’m working much more closely with Marion on securing get2gether’s future and introducing as many people as possible to get2gether, because I don’t want people to miss out.

I had never worked for a charity before and I have also never worked with people with disabilities before. The only experience I had was befriending a young girl with special needs in Craigmillar over five years and I have a cousin with Down’s Syndrome.

When I look at my cousin, her name is Ursula, I see how much her parents put her in cotton wool. She was always reminded, that she’s a special needs child, that she can’t do certain things and that she should better stick with her parents, stay in a safe environment and be a good girl. The only positive thing was, that Ursula got a job right after school. She worked at the Council and supported the planning office with various admin chores.

Differently abled sign
Differently abled

Seeing get2gether members at the CAV or other events, it makes me happy to see how many people – regardless of their abilities, disabilities or different abilities – get out there (many of you on your own, catching buses, changing buses etc.) and take part in get2gether’s various activities: dancing their socks off, approaching people they fancy or getting tipsy 😉

CAV night
CAV night

I wish that many of you make new friends at our events, exchange phone numbers, get in touch with each other and organise to do fun things in your own time. It should be easier to go back to venues where you’ve already been before (at a get2gether event) so you know what to expect.

My wish is that you will make friends to do fun things with, go out or visit each other, enjoy yourselves, laugh, talk, share your dreams and do all these ‘normal’ things ‘normal’ people take for granted.

Do you know this quote by the author Salman Rushdie?

“I owe my health, my mental survival, to my friends and loved ones.”

Yes, having friends and fun really has a knock-on effect!

So, what are you waiting for? Join get2gether for as many events as you can, try new things – even if you think you are not necessarily interested in a certain activity, just give it a try, you might even like it – meet new people, enjoy yourself and have loads of fun!

Your happiness will increase, your self-esteem will grow and you might even want to apply for one of get2gether’s sessional work opportunities? Get in touch if you’d like to find out more: admin@get2gether.org.uk or 07867 179023.

 

Robert has been a get2gether member since March 2016 and here is his guest blog

Hi Robert, you got in touch with us as you wanted to write a blog, so what are you going to tell us?

Clubbing at the CAV

Hi everyone! I am Robert K. and I am from Mayfield, Midlothian. I am 25, I work at Garvald and I go to Artlink.

I was part of the group that was working on the decorations for the June club night at the CAV.

I also attended the club night, and this was my first get2gether at the CAV as well as my first EVER, EVER club night!

Wow! That’s amazing Robert! Thank you and Artlink for the beautiful decoration. What Artlink workshops were you part of and what did you do in them? 

Artlink decoration
Artlink decoration

We designed T-shirts and I was wearing one of them on the night too!

Have you been back to the CAV for the Beach Party or Halloween’s Zombie Dance?

No I haven’t, because it is very far for me to travel from Mayfield to the CAV and back. Especially back – on the night bus you can’t use your bus pass. I’d have to pay for an additional night bus ticket to get back to Mayfield.

That’s a shame. Perhaps you could consider leaving the CAV a bit earlier, so it would give you enough time to catch the last bus back to Mayfield?
How about other get2gether events from the programme, have you come along to anything else?

Yes, I came to the Festival street parade with my pal Matthew. We really enjoyed it!

You know that get2gether is also starting to organise events in Midlothian. I am curious to know what sort of get2gether events you would like to see there?

It could be anything?

Yes! Dream big, use your imagination!

Probably we could do with more people to come to the CAV!

The CAV dancefloor
The CAV dance floor

What do you mean? How is that related to Midlothian?

I know that some people in Midlothian would like to go to the CAV, but they find it hard, especially with travel and if they have never been to a club before!

That’s a very interesting observation Robert, what do you think is the way forward then?

If some people have been to the club before, we could help other people to get there. We could all go to the next club night together.

I totally agree with you, and this is the whole point of get2gether, people getting together to explore different things. As you have been to the CAV before, you could show others how to get there, is that what you are suggesting?

Yes, that is correct!

That’s great. Also, we are setting up a Steering group in Midlothian, where we will discuss these issues and ideas with other get2gether members. Would you be interested in being part of this group?

Yes, I am up for it! Just let me know when and where you meet!

Great Robert, look out for the get2gether newsletter, all the information will be in there!

Great, thanks.

So, Robert, Christmas season is here, are you looking forward to it and how do you usually celebrate?

Yes, I am looking forward to it! I’m going to my auntie’s, who stays in Penicuik. I have two cousins who are older than me. We stay in and watch telly or go out to different places. It is nice, I really like it.

What else keeps you busy, what are your hobbies?

I go to Edinburgh and play music – we have a concert on the 2nd of December at Fountainbridge with Artlink. Sometimes I just hang about with Keith, he is my neighbour. Keith also came to the CAV. He loved it too and we signed up to get2gether, Ellie was so kind and explained everything to us. I would like to go again to the CAV with Keith.

What did you like so much about the CAV? Did you dance your socks off?

Haha, well, sometimes I like to dance, and sometimes I don’t! The best thing was that we met new people, people who we had never seen before! That was the best part; that and being in a club – I’d only seen a club before on the telly, I’d never experienced it in my life!

Great Robert, thanks for your time and I hope lots of people will read your blog!

OK, thanks for letting me share it with people, see you!

If you live in Midlothian and would like to get involved, please phone our Midlothian/East Lothian Events Co-ordinator Mojca on 07551 125726 for more info.

 

 

After a very successful first Karaoke Night, we are catching up with DJ Andy and Diva Dawn 

Karaoke Night
g2g: DJ Andy and Diva Dawn, you’ve organised and hosted one of get2gether’s recent events: the Karaoke and Disco Night.
Tell us how it all started …

Diva Dawn: It’s really DJ Andy’s baby …

DJ Andy: … not just mine, ours!

Diva Dawn

Diva Dawn: I’m the Karaoke Queen at the Grey Horse every Saturday and I wanted to do even more. When you have a disability, you sometimes think you can be excluded from normal things that able-bodied people do. And you might feel you can’t do it anymore. BUT YOU CAN! In this situation, I don’t feel disabled now. I feel like a ‘normal’ person – going out, singing and having fun.

g2g: And you wanted to organise your own event for get2gether?

Diva Dawn: We had a meeting with get2gether and Andy decided to join in as he’s got the technical equipment

g2g: DJ Andy, how did you find out about get2gether?

DJ Andy: I heard about get2gether and got invited to the CAV nights and then I offered my services as a DJ. And then I mentioned that I do karaoke as well and learned that get2gether was looking for somebody and I said: “I’m your man!”

DJ Desk

g2g: And how did you find the venue?

DJ Andy: I had heard of the Hearts Club as I had been before …

Diva Dawn: … and then we all went to check out the venue: it has a bar, it is accessible and everything just fell into place. And it’s easy to get there, so it’s great.

g2g: How would you describe the night to somebody who has missed the first event?

DJ Andy: If you like singing and dancing you get plenty of opportunities to get involved. Also, meet new friends and have a good banter with people.

A karaoke singer

Diva Dawn: That’s very true!

DJ Andy: It’s a very relaxed atmosphere so you are not being put on the spot

Diva Dawn: I didn’t feel disabled, but quite ‘normal’. Kenny, my partner, was with us and he really enjoyed it, too. I was told by one of my carers, that I’m never going to do it and that I won’t be able to stay the whole night as I’m usually in bed by 9pm, but I’m that kind of person who makes it happen if somebody says I can’t do it. I’m a bloody minded person!

DJ Andy: There’s no CAN’T in my vocabulary. And, Dawn, you also told me that your social life is better and everything is going through the roof since the karaoke.

Diva Dawn: Yes, and I’m also going to the Headway night …

DJ Andy: … I’ve been asked to do the Headway karaoke as well. These people would usually sit at home on their own, but now they go out and have a sing-along and get together with people and share experiences. It’s good to get out and do new things and have a good banter.

Dance floor

Diva Dawn: … because of what’s happened to me, I don’t take anything for granted anymore …

DJ Andy:  … and you can get pigeon-holed, but now I can go out and do it!

Diva Dawn: ‘Need’ wasn’t part of my vocabulary …

DJ Andy: … it’s been a total mind change.

g2g: Looking back to the Karaoke Night, was there anything you didn’t expect?

Diva Dawn: On the night I was out of my comfort zone as it wasn’t planned. For years now, I’ve had a set routine and on the night I didn’t know what was going to happen.

There was a real feeling of unity and belonging – which can be hard to get when you feel isolated due to a stroke.

DJ Andy: one person was amazed that I had the unusual song he had been looking for. People were impressed that it was the night it was.

Diva Dawn: I think people never expected it to be so good,  because it was the first event, nobody expected much.

DJ Andy: Many people enjoyed the music and enjoyed dancing and commented on my lighting

DJ Andy
DJ Andy on the left, wearing his DJ Andy T-Shirt

g2g: So, Andy, tell us more about your karaoke equipment – we know that many people were very impressed as they only expected a wee karaoke suitcase with a microphone

DJ Andy: Many years ago I started with a basic mixing desk and some loudspeakers. I then sold them to get a bigger set and the current equipment I have took me about ten years to collect. I have the desk, the mixing, the lights and so many songs, I can usually play every request.

g2g: What are your plans for the future?

DJ Andy: As people enjoyed it so much, we hope we’ll get more people coming along to enjoy themselves. I wanted it to be big, not just a little music session. I wanted to do a really big show to draw people to get2gether.

Diva Dawn: The Karaoke nights should go from strength to strength!

DJ Andy: I did it to create awareness of get2gether, to show that there’s a place where disabled people can go and feel safe, ‘normal’ and enjoy a really good night out with friends, and get up and sing and dance. I could just sit at home, watching TV – or I could go out and have a really good time!
Dawn, you said you do more now, you’ve expanded your boundaries …

Diva Dawn: … yes, and I’ve proved everybody wrong …

DJ Andy: … and you are out enjoying yourself and forget all the negativity from your life.

g2g: What would you tell people who are still not sure if they should come to the next Karaoke Night?

DJ Andy: get off you’re ar*e and go dancing at the get2gether Karaoke and Disco Night and have a good time and a good laugh!

g2g: great!

The next Karaoke and Disco night with DJ Andy and Diva Dawn is on Friday, 28th October from 7 – 11pm
at the Craigmillar Hearts Community Club, EH16 4DZ.
Entry is £5, carers go free. 

And if you are looking for a Karaoke DJ for your next celebration, get in touch with DJ Andy through get2gether!

Hearts Club Craigmillar

Do you remember Stephan? He’s one of our DJs who wrote a blog earlier this year, here is his latest blog

Hello again everyone

Here is a wee update about what I have been getting up to since my last post well first off we had our summer themed Cav night witch was a great success and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did and just a reminder that our next Cav night is on Thursday the 13th of October doors open at 8pm so come along with your dancing shoes or wheels and be ready to party.

And secondly I am involved with the Brunton players and having been

DJ Hotwheels
DJ Hotwheels

back for a couple of weeks after our summer break we are now in rehearsals for our play witch will be performed in the Brunton theatre itself in February the play will be round about an hour long with 2 one act plays being performed the first one is called Grandmas photographs and the second is called the Luvvies witch I am in keep an eye out on my blog posts for ticket information and times etc as soon as I know you guys will.

Anyway that’s it from me for this month see you all at the next Cav night

Stephan Tait A.K.A DJ Hotwheels

Ciao for now

Ellie, get2gether’s Edinburgh Events’ and Volunteer Co-ordinator is leaving us, here is our farewell interview with her

g2g: Ellie, you’ve been with get2gether for three and a half years. When you first saw the job advertised, what attracted you most to get2gether?

Ellie
Ellie

Ellie: I believed in the idea of get2gether.
Generally, disabled people are not given opportunities to develop close relationships. But as this is something that I value in my own life, I found this is a really important approach.

g2g: Sum up get2gether in three words

Ellie: Radical. Adventurous. Fun.

g2g: During your time at get2gether, what got you out of bed in the morning?

Ellie: Getting to watch our members grow and change.

g2g: Anything else?

Fireworks in Edinburgh
Fireworks in Edinburgh

Ellie: My colleagues, definitely!
And getting to do really fun things that I always wanted to do – such as going to watch the end of the Festival fireworks. I really enjoyed sharing with members places I love going to.

g2g: What or who has inspired you most?

Ellie: Marion.
Because she taught me everything I know about the world of disability, inclusion, starting and running a charity and most of all: making things happen.

g2g: Which get2gether co-operation partner do you find most successful?

Ellie: The Interact Project, which is helping young people with transition from school to adult life.

g2g: What would you consider to be your best achievement?

Ellie: Proposing free membership.

g2g: In the world of disability – what do you find most annoying?

Ellie: The fact that people, e.g. support workers, parents etc. will do things for people because it’s easier than teaching people to do it for themselves.

g2g: What would you like to see more of?

Ellie: More inclusive events.

g2g: What are your hopes for get2gether?

Ellie: My hopes are that get2gether will help to change the way people interact with people with disabilities.

g2g: What will you miss most?

Ellie: Having fun with members at events.

g2g: As get2gether’s new colleague Debs is starting in her new role – what’s your most important advice for her?

Ellie: To listen to get2gether’s members.

g2g: Finally, what about you and your plans?

Ellie: My plans are to go travelling around India and to explore a whole new culture.

India
India

g2g: Ellie, we wish you an amazing time in India and a successful further career. We look forward to seeing you as a get2gether volunteer at some of our next events.

Ellie: And I look forward to dancing the night away with you guys.

Sarah, get2gether member and former East Lothian Ambassador:

Here are a few things you might not know about me.

g2g: This sounds intriguing!

Sarah: Yes! I was born in London within the sound of Bow Bells.

St Mary Le Bow
St Mary Le Bow

g2g: What is that?

Sarah: It is a church and it means you are a Cockney.

g2g: Ah … do you know any Cockney slang then?

Sarah: Apples and Pears is stairs

g2g: Anything else?

Sarah: Maybe, but I can’t remember now.

g2g: OK

Sarah: I’m left handed which means we are smarter than other people.

g2g: At least more creative …

Sarah: Yes, it’s meant to be smarter. I was one of the first people with a disability in East Lothian to get the John Muir award.

g2g: What is the John Muir award? And what did you have to achieve?

John Muir
John Muir

Sarah: it was set up by John Muir who lived in Dunbar. It’s now a nationwide organisation. It involves conservation work and sharing experiences, i.e. telling other people what you’ve done. I had to go to certain places over a year and notice certain plants and take photographs.

g2g: Tell us more …

Sarah: I had to go to Gullane for the first award. It has three levels: Discovery, Explorer and Conserver

I also completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award

Duke of Edinburgh Award logo
Duke of Edinburgh Award logo

g2g: Wow! And what did you do for this one?

Sarah: For Gold: I went to Hoy off Orkney to find wild primroses. I also went on tall ships with a group called Jubilee Sailing Trust – which, by the way, is a great group for people with disabilities!
I also saw killer whales and dolphins between Nice and Alicante.

g2g: Wait, I can’t follow you anymore!

Sarah: Sailing from Nice to Alicante was part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We sailed into a hurricane and many of us got seasick. I have also done Jersey to Dublin and came in as part of a festival in Dublin. And in Monaco I got to walk a bit on the Formula One  track. It’s a normal street in town.

Monaco, Formula One track
Monaco, Formula One track

g2g: So what was your role on these sailing trips?

Sarah: Pull the sails, steer the ship, help in the kitchen. My favourite was to keep an eye on watch. I saw the sunrises and sunsets.

g2g: Tell us about the Duke of Edinburgh award ceremony, Sarah

Prince Philip
Prince Philip

Sarah: I went to Holyrood Palace to get the award and met its representative …

g2g: … you mean His Royal Highness?

Sarah: Yes, the Duke of Edinburgh. I was asked if my parents were involved with the award.

g2g: Were you nervous?

Sarah: I was a wee bit nervous beforehand, but it was fine

g2g: Now we’ve spoken about four things, what else do you want to tell us?

Passenger
Passenger
Clean Bandit
Clean Bandit

When I was at T in the Park one year I met Passenger and Clean Bandit who are famous musicians and I got them to sign my hat!

Sarah's signed hat
Sarah’s signed hat
img_1971
Sarah’s wearing her hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

More recently, I was asked to go to the Young Friends of the Earth Conference in Forfar, Scotland.

g2g: Hey, that sounds right up your street, doesn’t it?

Sarah: Yes, and I got to do a Forest School session with Mo and a nature walk and one of the participants pointed out plants you can eat.

g2g: For example?

Meadowsweet
Meadowsweet

Sarah: Meadowsweet. You can eat the leaves or flowers raw!

There was a ceilidh on the last night and for quite a few people it was their first ceilidh outside, barefoot. It was quite nice.

g2g: Sounds very earthy!

Sarah: I’m also a keen football fan and I’m going on Saturday to see my team. By the way, look at my T-Shirt!

Sarah
Sarah

And if you get PIP (Personal Independence Payment) you get a free ticket for a carer for any game in Gorgie. One of my relations used to play for Hearts and is now playing for Ipswich.

I’m also regularly on East Coast FM.

g2g: What did you talk about last time?

Sarah: it was a couple of weeks ago and I spoke about being on the get2gether Board. I’m really looking forward to my first Board meeting. I’ll be representing the get2gether members and bring in any issues they might have.

g2g: So, that means people can get in touch with you? Best thing to do this is through get2gether.

Sarah: Yes! And I’m also looking forward to the next CAV night. The last one was quite cool: a summer beach party and some people came in shorts, sandals and Hawaiian shirts, wearing sunglasses.

Beach fun
Beach fun

We had a photo frame and took plenty of photographs. The frame was like one of these old things where you stick your head out and your body is a man or woman in a bathing costume. We also had a sharks, killer whales and parrots decoration. And the Short Life Working group made shell necklaces.

g2g: Sounds cool and the photographs look great. Do you also know the theme of the next CAV night?

Sarah: I think it’s about zombies as it’ll be Halloween!

g2g: That sounds great, Sarah, and we look forward to clubbing with you on Thursday, 13th October!

Zombie
Zombie

 

 

 

CAV
CAV

 

 

 

Nicola, a very active get2gether member, introduces herself with this guest blog

get2gether member Nicola

Hello, I’m Nicola and I’ve been a get2gether member for over three years and I am also an active volunteer at the Steering group. I want to blog about my life and what I’ve achieved so far.

I was a very sporty person – I even took part in the Special Olympics and went to North Carolina in America for the world games in 1999. My discipline is swimming.

I swam fast and I touched the wall before the American participant and I was supposed to get the gold medal, but the American rules are different from the British rules, so America won and I got silver.

Nicola on the podium

Sure, I was disappointed, but it was OK, a silver medal is a fantastic achievement. And on my return to Scotland I felt like a celebrity as I and other athletes from the Olympics as well as local Councillors opened the Penicuik swimming pool.

Penicuik swimming pool

I also got another big surprise as Midlothian Council included myself in the Sports Hall of Fame in the town hall and I’m the only one from the Special Olympics.

If my nana Janette and my papa Jockie were still alive they would certainly be very proud of their granddaughter!

I continued with my training and swam for the Loanhead Dolphin Swimming Club and still trained three times per week.

Before taking part in the Special Olympics I went to Lugton School in Dalkeith and as part of school I went on introductory courses in child care.

At school I met someone I really liked, but we lost touch and when I then moved to East Lothian I bumped into him and his family. And he was very nice to me, but then he hurt me and my heart is broken and I am very sad about this.

But I was told this is part of life and of being and adult! It has happened and it wasn’t a happy experience, but it certainly made me stronger.

After school I worked in hairdressing in Penicuik. I had done college courses on hairdressing and in the salon I was tidying up, did colouring, rinsing and shampooing and I enjoyed everything about it.

Nicola the Soap QueenA few years ago I set up Soap Queen which was a business buying and selling soaps and bath bombs and I sold them at fairs and events and prepared a lot for special occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

I love doing my nails and I have been offering nail art at get2gether’s club nights at the CAV. Nail art

 

I would like to live in my own flat and therefore I’m now doing a project: cooking for independent living.

We meet once a month and so far we’ve made macaroni cheese, lasagne, pizza – all homemade from scratch. Macaroni cheese is my favourite.

get2gether are special to me, very good. The staff work with you and helped me with quite a lot of things like making new friends, finding a boyfriend, exploring new places.

We do loads of things and I got two best friends and new friends, too. Friendship is very important to me.

Nicola and friends

 

 

You have probably seen Stephan DJing at the get2gether club nights, but did you know that Stephan is also an actor and a radio presenter?

DJ Hotwheels guest blog 

DJ Hotwheels
DJ Hotwheels

Hello to those of you who don’t know me – my name is Stephan Tait also known as DJ Hotwheels and I am one of the DJs at the CAV club nights.

I have been involved with the get2gether’s CAV nights since virtually day one and I LOVE IT!

As well as being a DJ at the nights I also interact with all of our clubbers – anything from a chat or a dancing partner to playing their requests – because I believe disabled people, no matter what their disability, should be able to experience nights out just like non-disabled people!

DJ Hotwheels in action
DJ Hotwheels in action

The CAV club nights that are run by get2gether are a great way to do that because you can meet up with friends, chat, dance and even make new friends.

I feel so privileged and humble to be part of get2gether. When I see everybody dancing and having a good time dancing to my tunes it makes me so happy to know that what I do as a DJ makes people happy!

Now onto my taste in music: I currently have 23,591 songs and more will be added in the coming weeks of that I am sure and I love the fact that every night has a theme.

DJ desk
DJ desk
Stephan the actor
Stephan the actor

As well as being a DJ I am also an actor. I have been an actor for nine years and I LOVE IT!

I suppose for me as an actor it is great, because I never know what new challenges are around the corner.

I work for a theatre company called Lung Ha Theatre Company and for example we could be doing a Greek tragedy for one show and a comedy for the next one and I love all the new challenges and skills that I learn.

Stephan in Huxley's Lab
Stephan in Huxley’s Lab

One of the best shows that I have been with Lung Ha was a co-production between Lung Ha and Grid Iron Theatre Company called Huxley’s Lab which was part of the Science Festival in 2010 and we won a CATS award (Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland) for best ensemble with Huxley’s Lab.

I have also worked with quite a few famous faces over the years and appeared in River City on BBC One Scotland as an extra which I loved.

I have also been a drama teacher to the senior classes of three special schools. The leavers groups were part of the InterAct project run by Thistle Foundation. I was part of the project for three years and I LOVED IT!

I also volunteer at Radio Lollipop in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

I have been doing this for ten years and I have loved every minute of it and I still do. I volunteer there on Thursday nights between 6pm and 8pm (apart from when I am DJing at the CAV nights) I am the team leader for Thursdays and I co-present our show called Thrilling Thursday.

I hope you all enjoy reading this and see you all at the next CAV night!

Bye for now

Stephan on stage
Stephan on stage

 

Our first guest blogger is Katrina, Katrinawho’s been a get2gether member for more than two years:

I can’t believe that finally my dream is about to come true!

I knew since I was about ten years old, that I wanted to work with kids. I have always been good at protecting my younger siblings and I also did a lot of baby-sitting for local people in my village. After I left school, I went on an extension course, getting to know different subjects (such as floristry, joinery, painting and decorating …) but I wasn’t interested in any of them – they were all dead boring!

After this course I was asked what I wanted to do and I said “I want to work with nursery kids.”

Then I was put on the care course which was working with kids with learning difficulties, the elderly and nursery kids. I was told that if I passed that course, I could go on to do the childcare course. But later I was told that I had failed two subjects to do with the elderly and that I can’t go on the childcare course.

But I later found out that this was not the real reason. The real reason why I was told I can’t do it is because I have a learning difficulty. I replied that if a ‘normal’ person would have failed, they probably would have been allowed to go on the course.

After this experience, I promised myself that I won’t allow one person to tell me what I can’t do and from this day forward, I said to my mum, this woman has given me every incentive to go on a childcare course!

I'm not giving upA lot of people would have given up, but I was determined not to, I got that from my dad’s and grandad’s side of my family.

My parents and all my family and friends encouraged and supported me to go on a childcare course as they have seen how good I was with kids. I then went to Aberdeen College in 2001 and did my NC  in Childcare and Education, Level 2 and passed it. Then I went on a SVQ Childcare and Education, Level 3 and passed that as well.

CertificateAnd I sent a copy of both certificates to the woman who had turned me down to prove that she was wrong and I can do it!

I’d like to say that if anybody has a dream, they have to stick to it and not give up, as you can do it! People [with learning difficulties] should be given a chance, just like anybody else.

When I moved to Dunbar, I went on a few voluntary placements – the longest was over four years – at nurseries, but I always wanted a paid job.

NurseryIn 2015 I met a woman from IntoWork and told her I want to go back into a nursery; I wanted a part-time job.

She put down ‘nursery’ as my first choice, but offered me different placements. But I didn’t want to work in a shop or at reception. I wasn’t interested in that. She was quite impressed with my determination.

I then got a phone call from Dunbar Primary School, offering me a placement working in a nursery. I felt really happy and this opportunity was too good to turn down, so I even withdrew my application for the get2gether Ambassador post.

I will start in a few weeks’ time and I’m really looking forward to doing a job I really love – working with children. And at the end of this placement, I’ll get a reference and this hopefully will lead onto a part-time job and me getting my dream job.

My advice to anyone would be: If you ever have a dream job you want to do, never let anyone tell you you can’t. Stick to your guns and fight for it!

Determination quote