Shaun is #BecomingVisible

Shaun is #BecomingVisible

Shaun has been a get2gether member for a couple of years now. He has great support from The Thistle Foundation and his team has encouraged Shaun to take part in our online events. Shaun’s journey into the digital world has been positive, and even during the lockdown, Shaun made new friends online.

Shaun’s support continually challenges the status quo, encourages Shaun to experiment and get comfortable with the technology. Here is Shaun’s story about going digital and #BecomingVisible!

What does becoming visible mean to you?

At first I didn’t want to participate in the get2geter events . Once I finally got convinced I started to participate in them. At first I was shy, but I’ve seen so many happy people talking to each other. I’ve seen one big family I wanted to be a small part of it.

I wanted people to meet me and call me by my name. I couldn’t wait till the next event. When I see other disabled people I don’t feel alone in this all. I try to be as independent as I can and I try new things which I know I can do.

Being seen means for me to meet new people and go to a pub with friends, feeling happy and more open to try things. I hope that thanks to the wonderful people from get2geter I will be seen as a person for me instead of my disability.

How did you hear about get2gether? 

After moving from Penicuik to my new flat in Edinburgh, my friend Kevin told me about get2gether. I knew Kevin from working together in IKEA, where we would restock bedroom displays and maintain the greenhouse. 

Kevin told me about some of the events going on so I could start to meet new people and have fun. I wanted to get to know what was going on in my new neighbourhood. I usually went to events once a month. 

How has the transition from in person events to online ones? 

I love to use technology so for me the lockdown was a good opportunity to try out using my laptop, iPad, and TV for new things. I am quite shy in person so being online helped me to get comfortable talking to new people and getting to know them from the comfort of my own home. I think I’ve gotten much more comfortable with the online stuff. 

Why did you want to get involved in get2gether at home?

Even though there were lockdowns and restrictions in place, I wanted to still feel like I could have fun and talk to people. Now, with so many events happening, I really love it!

What was your first impression, when you joined the Monday Meeting?

I just wanted to listen and hear what people were saying would be happening that week and hear about the ideas that people had. I feel really nervous and excited about working up to running something myself. I’ll need to do some brainstorming! 

What skills have you been learning & honing online? 

I was already good with technology which has been helpful for taking part.

{Shaun’s support staff team told us that “Shaun has been getting better with being comfortable with people, which is a massive skill to hone. You’ve really flourished, being involved with all the group chats and getting to know people’s faces”}

What was your first online event? 

A quiz! I love the quizzes and Lauren, who hosts them. I find her so cheery. 

What has been the biggest learning from 2020-2021?

I think I’ve learnt that people want to get to know me and be friends with me. I feel part of a group of people who make me laugh and who I have a good time with. 

I have learned that I like to be proactive, seeing what’s going on at get2gether. I used to just wait for my friend to tell me what he was going to and then I’d go along with him. Now I look every week to see what’s on, get it in my diary and then text him to ask if he wants to come to things I’m already planning on going to. 

What are you proudest of? 

I am proud I have made new friends. 

This is something you’ve wanted to do for a long time and you’ve made it happen. How? Did you push yourself, did you message people, did you ignore your fear? 

{Shaun’s support staff gave us a little bit of background: “Historically Shaun’s friend is very confident and will talk to everyone which has made it possible for Shaun to hide behind him. Although Shaun was really anxious at first, he has learnt to be himself on screen and made his own identity. He’s not just someone’s friend, he’s Shaun.}

Shaun also loves remembering facts about people and getting to know friends in different situations. Building up those friendships.  

Have you noticed a difference in yourself? 

I’m more confident going to the events and getting to know everyone online. Now I can’t wait to be able to meet in person again when things go back to how they were before the pandemic. 

Positives from the pandemic : what had the lockdown made possible for you? 

I was able to adopt my cat, Pistachio. I’ve wanted a cat for a long time. The pandemic meant I was able to have the time to focus on letting her settle into her new space and get comfy and cosy. 

What are your hopes for the future? What would you like to keep doing? 

I hope to get back to doing things I liked to do before the pandemic; going for meals, coffees, going to my job in IKEA, going to people’s houses, having a beer and chilling out with them. I want to keep going to get2gether events and seeing my friends. I especially love quiz nights and going to discos. 

What else would you like other people to know about?

I’d like everyone to know how welcoming the events have been and if you’re thinking about coming – please do! 

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