As soon as we have a team of PAs and I am able to relax with the knowledge that N is safe and sound, and well supported something happens.
If it is not someone getting pregnant, it is someone leaving to go travelling, getting a job in a school, heading off to do masters at University, or it is just time for them to move on.
It is like the earth has rumbled and we feel the eruption that is about to happen. Phone comes out of the pocket, back onto the internet to google “ PA Wanted”on Gumtree. This is inspite of our past experience and our own evidence showing us that only 1 in 4 of people interviewed for a PA job in Gumtree are suitable candidates.
Good ones include:
• H who had just left school, lived in Todmorden and was in a gap year before going to Uni.
• Deaf E who applied about 6 months before she moved to Yorkshire and came for an interview with no experience, sat on our sofa and signed away to N like they had known each other for years. She is so in love with her partner and her beautiful bump is often the centre of attention on her facebook page. Her partner D plays international standard sports for the Deaf GB team, and their egg doner lives in London.
• F came up from near Birmingham to be a live in PA one year – went home at Xmas and fell for a guy and never came back at the same time I was out of action with a broken foot.
• G lived in for a year and arrived knowing no sign language and left to work in a special school and to run the signing choir.
Deaf Jobs Uk is a good site and N is a regular contributor to their job vacancy site. We have had some very wonderful and committed PAs through this avenue. There is something about female British Sign Language signers that makes them amazing Personal Assistants.
They have the following qualities:
• Excellent communication skills both receptive and expressive
• Motivated individuals
• Want to make a difference
• Understand the importance of empowering people to have a voice
• Think on their feet
• Expressive and creative
• Good sense of humour (vital to work in our house)
• Led by the deaf (disabled) person
• Confident and outgoing
We have employed staff since N was 8 years old. Before that we had local girls who came and helped at tea time and the holidays. Our first ever “extra pair of hands” helped us out when N was just out of special care and was still seriously ill and very fragile. She was called A and would sit holding our sick baby next to the oxygen cylinder calm, cool and collected whilst I dashed around making tea or cleaning or looking after our 18 month old son Sean.
We even managed to get a few hours out to the pub round the corner for a much needed drink in those days thanks to A and her strength of character and her trustworthy nature. It was this good experience of being able to “let go” very early on that we have continued welcoming wonderful women who have supported N to have an enriched life and to go for her dreams.
Each of these women has given us all something very special. And N has changed their lives too. They have come and gone. Some have stayed as good friends to us all especially with N. They have seen her as a person and have believed in her, and supported her to feel good about herself in a world where many people disable her and have a poor attitude.