Jack Blackwell: former Trustee at My Life My Choice
At 28 years old, Jack Blackwell, a man with a learning disability and autism, has achieved a lot. He joined My Life My Choice (MLMC), an award-winning charity run by and for people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire, 5-6 years ago and has progressed leaps and bounds.
Jack says that he joined MLMC for one simple reason: ‘for someone with disabilities to help out others with disabilities.’ He has done ‘just about everything on offer’ at MLMC, from buddy work to research alongside Lisa, even becoming a Trustee of the charity for 3 years!
Lisa, who has been working with Jack for the best part of 4 years and who nominated him for Leaders’ List, said Jack was very reserved when he first joined MLMC and refrained from speaking with people he didn’t know very well. However, despite this initial apprehension, Jack’s passion for helping others was immediately apparent.
Over the last 3 years, Lisa has seen Jack ‘come into his own’, seeing ‘huge change’ in how he acts and talks with people.
“Jack has really found his feet and his journey has made him feel more hopeful about what the future will bring.”
Jack finds it difficult to read, but this hasn’t stopped him from unlocking his potential. Jack currently supports several individuals as both a Travel Buddy, supporting people to travel independently, and Gig Buddy, supporting people to go to shows and events. He is also Head of Security at the charity’s Stingray Nightclub.
As a Trustee, Jack was able to help new people join the charity and also improve the charity, particularly for younger people.
“I have changed a lot since joining My Life My Choice. With all the projects I’ve taken part in it has changed me and helped me to see a different way of life – understanding people better who have different disabilities to what I have. My passion for helping others has been satisfied greatly here and the staff at the office have helped me build my confidence.”
Leaders’ List nomination
After finding out he had been nominated, Jack was ‘shocked’ despite saying that he had suspected Lisa was hiding something. Jack later found out that Lisa was hiding a certificate announcing him as a finalist for the Leaders’ List! He never thought he would win as he didn’t think he would be exceptional enough.
“This is the first time I have ever been put forward for something like this. All I can say is thank you very much and to Lisa for nominating me.” – Jack Blackwell.
When asked why Jack believes initiatives like Leaders’ List are important for autistic people and people with learning disabilities, he said: “It shows that anyone with a disability, no matter the kind, can win or complete something and, most importantly, learn.”
Outside of the day-to-day
When he isn’t getting involved at MLMC, Jack enjoys applying his amazing work ethic to other sporting exploits. In fact, he has just completed his first season of darts, coming runner up! When not competing, Jack also enjoys continuing his childhood passion for fishing, taking part in night fishing, and playing videogames like Fortnite and Call of Duty.
What inspires Jack?
“My desire to help others goes back to when I was at school. I had a difficult time because people don’t understand what a disability or what autism is – they think everyone is the same and that couldn’t be more wrong. Everyone has their unique side and overtime people have to learn what the misconceptions are.
“Autism is a label and I don’t care for it. We don’t want to just be labelled and left on the side; we want to be known for who we are.” – Jack Blackwell.
So, what’s next for Jack?
Jack says his progression at MLMC is ‘far from over’. In fact, when we spoke with him, he informed us that he is keen to become a consultant for the charity and is looking into how he can get enough experience so he can apply. By being a consultant, Jack can increase his income and secure more regular work.
We can’t wait to see what is next for Jack and wish him every success on his journey!
“With all the projects I’ve taken part in it has changed me and helped me to see a different way of life – understanding people better who have different disabilities to what I have.”