Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Danny French

Category: Advocacy, policy and media

If you have a mental health issue or a learning disability you shouldn’t be labelled or limited in what you can do.

Home, marriage and making things better for others

“I was badly bullied at school, and the names stuck. Because of that, I grew up thinking I’d never amount to much, never achieve anything. I thought I’d be dependent on my family for everything, forever.”

Even as a 26 year old autistic adult, Danny was at a “lowest point – feeling really down, depressed and not knowing where my life was heading, feeling that I had no self-esteem or confidence…”

Advocacy LDA Leaders' List 2018

Fast forward seven years. Not only is Danny successfully managing his own house and finances, he’s getting married! Danny has found himself, achieved many of his goals, and is helping others along their own journeys.

As he says: “When I was growing up, there was no real awareness of neurodiversity. No such thing as supported living in my area.

“I strongly believe that if you have a mental health issue or a learning disability you should be able to live as everyone else and do the same things, and shouldn’t be labelled or limited in what you can do. With the right encouragement and the right mind set we can do it.”

Well, Danny has now achieved all those goals and so much more. Danny’s story shows that stretching people to imagine bigger ambitions is one of the most valuable things a support team can do.

Danny today

In the past years, having been supported into a new home himself, Danny has become an ambassador for supported housing, because as he says: “I have found I can help people who can’t speak for themselves.”

Advocacy LDA Leaders' List 2018
Danny has found happiness in his own home.

He now mentors prospective and new tenants. He’s also been elected as vice chair of Havering’s Learning Disabilities’ Partnership Board. In fact, Danny now sits on several boards that oversee the right care and treatment including the Transforming Care Pathway CCG.

Not content with that, Danny gives enthusiastic, passionate talks and training around Hate Crime and keeping yourself safe, helps to deliver workshops teaching others how to use a computer, trains GPs on making reasonable adjustments, trains hospital staff on learning disability awareness, and he’s a frequent guest on local radio station TIME FM; publicising Learning Disability Awareness Days.

Not bad for someone who once didn’t have any self-confidence!

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