Alex’s involvement with QEF Independent Living Services began in 1991 when she came to Dorincourt to teach maths. She was then employed by Surrey County Council and worked when her son was at nursery. Gradually she became more involved, moving from maths tutoring to life skills tutor, then life coach, and now coordinating the life coach team, having received many commendations along the way.
At Dorincourt young people with disabilities are prepared for living independently, primarily by building their confidence.
Alex describes the life coaches’ work as: “walking alongside people in their lives and helping them find their voice.”
“We help people to become autonomous and ambitious, but also realistic. It’s about what they want, not what I think is best. If someone says they want to become a doctor, then we don’t dismiss this, even if they have no qualifications. We find out where the beginning of that journey is.
“That might mean nurturing an interest in science and running a science course, or work experience at a surgery.
“We had a resident who initially didn’t want to live away from home. With support he moved into an independent flat. He’s now living in his own bungalow. His journey took a long time, but we moved at his pace, without pressure and giving him autonomy.”
The life coach team at Dorincourt, which Alex oversees, has grown to 18 people, running full time education and leisure.
Alex explains: “There’s less focus on accredited courses and we’re free to do whatever we need to support residents’ choices. We can be flexible and respond to what’s asked for.
“The most important aspect of independence is knowing your own mind. Not necessarily knowing how to do everything. I don’t know how to fix my car, but I know how to arrange for it to be fixed. Here, we help people to find out what they can do, and the steps needed to get to the end result they want.”
Thank you Alex. Congratulations on 25 years at QEF, and here’s to many more.