The London Cat’s social group decided their December gathering would be a party as Christmas was fast approaching and to celebrate Connie’s birthday, any excuse for chocolate cake! People we support from both local services got in the spirit by wearing their favourite Christmas jumpers and Christmas songs rang out in the lounge where everyone gathered.

The membership of the London Cats fluctuates over the year with people dipping in and out of the activities planned month on month but for this meeting not only did we have a full turn out but we welcomed someone new. Wayne had recently moved into a flat in one London service on a temporary basis before he could move into his new flat at the other local service. The London Cats group was a good opportunity for Wayne to meet some of the people that live at his new home while still having people he was familiar with around him.

Wayne chose his seat in the lounge and was keen for his Support Worker to remain next to him, holding his arm for reassurance. Wayne watched people greet each other and get up and dance along to the music. The Support Workers near Wayne tried to encourage him to get up and dance but Wayne was hesitant. The Support Workers reflected on this and changed how they were reacting to the music by starting to clap along to the beat, Wayne was still unsure but looked around the room where other people who weren’t up dancing were also clapping along to the music and he tentatively joined in.

All the dancing made the group hungry and party food was prepared in the adjoining kitchen, most people moved through leaving Wayne and two other people in the lounge. Wayne’s Support Worker observed his unease at the large group and went through to put a selection of food items on a plate for Wayne and bought it back for him. As we don’t know what Wayne really likes and he is unable to tell us directly, Wayne had a selection on his plate and it soon became clear what food he enjoyed.

After eating, the group remained spread across the two rooms. As the Support Workers moved between the groups talking with people, one of them tried to interact with Wayne. He was unsure with this unfamiliar face and several times held on to a Support Worker he knew for reassurance. The Support Worker reflected on this and disappeared, reappearing with a balloon which had a flashing light in when you hit it. She began by throwing it up in the air then was tapping it towards other people, calling their name and asking them to hit it back. 

Other people soon got the hang of this and joined in and Wayne sat and observed. The Support Worker tried to include Wayne by batting the balloon to him. He initially caught it and handed it to another Support Worker to hit on to someone else. Wayne was included each time and Wayne repeated the same behaviours until after some time, he tried to hit it back and it worked. Wayne smiled with achievement and by the time everyone was ready to leave Wayne was fully part of the game.

Sara Parkinson

Area Manager, London and Kent