Part of the Chapter in February 2010 included a gathering of Brothers and a number of staff members in order to share stories and learn more about the work in all of the countries that the new province now incorporates.
Michael Swaine uses Saint John of God Hospitaller Services here in Great Britain. Michael shared his personal story with those at the Chapter and recounts his experience of attending the Chapter and his trip to Dublin:
My first thought about going to the Chapter was that it was a great opportunity, one that I felt I could not refuse as I wanted to help others understand what Saint John of God Services in Great Britain have done for me, and for others. I thought it would a good chance to give people examples of how we work, and how the Saint John of God family can pull together and learn from each other.
I felt privileged to be able to tell my story about the fight I had several years ago to move into my own flat and to live independently. I had been living in a residential home with several other people, but my ambition was always to live independently. Many of the people working around me, including my social worker and support workers told me that they thought that their too many risks for me to live in my own flat, but I thought otherwise.
Some friends told me about Saint John of God Hospitaller Services’ supported housing service in Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, and so I contacted them myself and asked what I needed to do to move in. After many discussions and assessments, I finally convinced people that I would be able to cope, with the right support, in my own flat. Today, several years later I have never looked backed. Saint John of God Hospitaller Services has given me the support to move on with my life, I consider them to be my second family.
We both felt that we were welcomed with open arms in true Hospitaller form; and thought that it was a privilege to meet Brother Donatus, people who work in the services on Ireland, as well as Bridget Doogan, Lesley Robinson and other people from the other regions in Great Britain. It was interesting to watch how the attendees reacted to seeing a great big paddling pool on our table. They seemed quite intrigued and curious as to what we were all about, what we were going to ask them to do with the ducks!
It wasn’t all work and no play as the next day we went on a quick bus tour around Dublin City. It was great to see the sights and learn about the City’s history. Although time was short we managed to stop off and have a tour around the Guinness Storehouse and enjoy a pint of the ‘black stuff’.
Our trip was a flying visit and it would have been good to have had more time to learn about the Saint John of God services in Ireland, and to experience all Ireland has to offer, but never mind our interest has been sparked and we can’t wait to go again.