Lloyd Page of Mencap has provided us with two insightful reviews of books from the Books Beyond Words Series. Lloyd is a strong advocate for improving the lives of people with learning disabilities. For many years he has strived to advance services, resources and facilities for people with both learning and physically disabilities. He is an active supporter of Beyond Words and is currently helping to create his second book with us; a book on going to the dentist. He writes from his own experience as someone with a learning disability, as well as an extremely experienced campaigner, writer and community engager. We hope you enjoy Lloyd's reviews of Peter's New Home and You're in Prison - two very different books.
This book is designed to help people with learning disabilities make a happy transition to a new home. The main character is called Peter and it’s about him moving into a group home for the first time, without his family.
When the story starts, Peter lives with his parents and his brother and his cat. His social worker asks if wants to see a new house, so him and his mum go to have a look. Four people live there already and Peter decides he would like to move in. When he packs his things he feels sad about leaving his family. Peter’s family help him to move in but when they leave, he feels a bit blue and lonely.
His housemates try to cheer him up the next day and when he next visits his family at home he tells them all about his new friends. Peter still feels homesick from time to time but on the whole, he is very happy to be living independently in his new home.
This book is a very useful and reassuring tool for people thinking about moving away from their family for the first time. It covers issues like homesickness, learning new household skills and socialising. We see Peter doing things like going bowling, socialising and learning how to iron. The whole story is told with lots of very clear and colourful pictures.
It really captures what would it feel like to move to a new home, I could relate to feeling nervous and a bit homesick, sometimes even going on holiday can make you feel homesick.
My favourite part is when you see Peter getting to know his new flatmates and they’re playing cards at the table together.
There is also plenty of other useful information included in the book like contact details for the housing and support alliance and the Mencap helpline. There is Q&A on getting the support to live as you want to and a general guide to moving home.
This book is on the serious theme of what it is like going to prison. The main character is called Dave and he has been convicted of a crime, which is why he has to go to prison. Dave finds the experience very difficult and even more challenging because he has a learning disability.
We see Dave doing things like spending his first night in a prison cell, going to the canteen, getting advice from a Mental Health Worker, and meeting a prison chaplain. He also eventually makes friends with another prisoner while they are using the Exercise Yard.
One of the biggest struggles Dave faces is when he has an Educational Assessment and fails the test. He is very upset but luckily but the next time he goes back the staff know that he has a learning disability and can make adjustments for him. Dave has another low point when he experiences bullying. It is a sad moment in his story but it is important to show this can happen in prison.
In the end Dave is released and he meets his Dad at the prison, ready to collect him so they can go home together.
I think this book should be made available to anyone who might need information about what prison is like including families of people with a learning disability, people with a learning disability, mental health workers and even doctors and nurses who come into contact with the prison service.
Although there are some sad and troubling parts of this story, there is a happy ending for Dave and his dad. And even though it is quite a long and complicated story, as usual the clear and well-drawn pictures make it easier to follow. I would recommend this book.
all reviews by Lloyd Page, 2015