By JENNY GRAINER
KARAOKE IS not really my scene. In fact, the idea of being in a crowded bar with holidaymakers, usually over-stimulated by alcohol, at a sound level guaranteed to make them use a deaf aid in their 30s, having fun with a microphone, fills me with dread. As a long term Algarve resident and a child of the Sixties, I prefer a good meal out, in places I have learned to know and enjoy over the years, in the company of friends who share common interests. Now, having said all that, one of my regular haunts in Portimão, which often does nights of live music, usually jazz, decided, six months ago, to do – you’ve guessed it, yes – karaoke nights!
So, inspectors interviewed his clients and listened to their opinions. Then, they spent time in Alan’s practical workshops and watched the skills that were being taught and absorbed by the eager to learn participants. It did not take long for them to agree that Enable had the right to use their important and coveted seal. Now, Alan can stamp ‘Investors in People’ on his letter heading, whenever he writes yet another ‘please help us’ letter – and it has proved to be a great help.
Hard work and a sincere belief in what he is doing have brought Alan a long way. A few of his people are now living on their own, able to care for themselves, like Jacky, a mature lady with Down’s Syndrome. She lives alone in a bungalow, takes care of her own housekeeping, shopping and cooking, and works in the coffee shop at the Enable centre, now a custom built premise completed 18 months ago at a cost of £850.000.
Through regular meetings with parents and families, Alan regularly discusses the importance of letting their disabled child or sibling do things for themselves at home. It always seems easier to do it for them. “But what will happen when you die, if you don’t let survival skills be practised now?” he asks them. They know the answer all too well – the helpless ones will end up in institutions with no stimulation until they just fade away.