Lloyd Hasting-Dasent, Health Access champion, shares with us his determination to learn and succeed at life despite his learning disability, and the challenges he has faced on this journey.
Here is his story.
“I have a mild learning disability which means that I struggle to learn things quickly. Sometimes I need further explanation or need something repeated for me to understand.
I was born with my disability but it really came to light when I started school and the teachers told my parents that I will never be able to read or write. They wanted me to go to a special school but my mom and dad fought it off because it was a school for kids with behavioural problems, and I didn’t have those.
I was quite shy as a youngster and would only go out with my parents. I didn’t like big crowds. At five, I moved to a special school for learning disabilities. I had some really nice teachers like Mr Walsh, and I went on to become a senior pupil and looked after new pupils. At 14, I decided I wanted to go to a normal school because I wanted to get exam results. I managed to get three GCSEs in Maths, Art and English which I am really proud of!
After this I did an interesting gardening course, going on to do landscape gardening for two years. I then got a job working in a hotel kitchen where I even won a national award for ‘hotel employee of the year’ it was a brilliant evening.
In 2000 I had a major breakdown, I was really depressed and needed some time off work. My manager Geoff said ‘I’m going to save your job, take some time off work’, so I went off to Australia with my aunt for a month for the Olympics. It was such a nice holiday and I went back to work feeling re energised…then Geoff left. His agency replacement didn’t understand my disability and took the mick out of me so I left soon after, I just needed to get out. I had two years of not working at all, it was horrible. Then one day a nurse pointed out a new job for me, a Health Access Champion at Hertfordshire Partnership University Foundation Trust.
It’s a brilliant job. I get to help people worse off than me. I love it! I drive around the region and attend events like Learning Disability week. I work with my HPFT colleagues, commissioners, social workers and other NHS Trusts to improve inpatient and community services across north Essex. I sit in on interview panels, take part in the service user forum and have done talks about my experience of having a learning disability for various meetings and presentations.
In addition to my very busy Health Access Champion role, I am doing a customer care diploma. It involves customer care obviously, speaking to people on the phone, working with service users and shadowing colleagues and is something extra for my CV!
I still suffer from anxiety and depression from time to time. Work are so good to me, they know when I’m unwell and give me support and time off work if I need. One of my colleagues is my closest friend, she has been there for me over the last year when I went through one of the most difficult times in my life after losing both my mum and sister within a day of each other.
Don’t get me wrong, some days are really bad but then I am perfectly ok. I’ve got to know so many people through my work and some of them have become good friends. I have a really supportive family too, especially my aunt who I keep in touch with regularly.
On the other hand there are horrible people out there who don’t understand and don’t want to either. That makes me feel worse and anxious. Negative comments tend to send me into a corner, but I get through it by talking about it with my friends. I get on better with older people because they have the patience, young people, around the 18-20 year old age range say ‘you should be in a home’ and this is when I think that there is so much more we need to do in raising people’s awareness around disabilities.
I still don’t like big crowds but now I can talk in front of 200 people and it doesn’t even phase me.”
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things throughout their lifetime. Find out how a learning disability can affect someone and where you can find support.
A learning disability affects the way a person understands information and how they communicate. This means they can have difficulty:
- understanding new or complex information
- learning new skills
- coping independently
Around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability. It's thought up to 350,000 people have a severe learning disability. This figure is increasing.
Click here to find out more.