How supported living helps me to live independently

A man seated as part of a panel
Joe giving evidence at the Houses of Parliament

I was recently invited by Sense to speak at the Houses of Parliament about the future of supported housing.

In particular I was going to tell the MP’s how important Sense supported housing is in helping me, as a deafblind person, to live an everyday life as independently as possible.


I travelled down to London by train with Andrew, one of my Support Workers. I was proud to be representing Sense on such an important issue.

On the journey down, Andrew went through the questions that I was likely to be asked. So that when it came to the time to answer the MP’s I would be ready.

I met up with Sarah and Jonathon from Sense and over lunch, Jonathon mentioned catching the tube. I was certainly up for that.

So after lunch we all caught the Tube from Euston to Westminster. Travelling on the Underground was a really enjoyable experience for me, as I have a keen passion for public transport, especially buses and coaches.

With a bit of time to spare before speaking at the Houses of Parliament, I enjoyed a stroll over Westminster Bridge. Andrew kept me informed of any buses that passed and Sarah pointed out the sights. It was a warm afternoon and we decided to sit by the side of the Thames and relax for a short while.

With a job to do we made our way over to the Houses of Parliament.

The day before I had been at a Sense Ramble. It started at the new TouchBase site in Selly Oak, Birmingham before moving along the Worcester canal, ending at nearby Bournville. Before the ramble I had been asked to say a few words to a local TV station about the new TouchBase building.

I remember overhearing my mum Jill, who had come on the walk, saying to Andrew, “Oh he’s good at this sort of thing”. Hearing that gave me some extra confidence in talking to the MP’s.

Before going in I asked for a cup of coffee. Then I was ready.

At the meeting I spoke as well as I could. I have to admit I wasn’t fazed at all. I answered the MP’s questions with confidence and purpose. Everyone said I had done well and I felt pleased with myself.

Eventually it was time to go. In the corridors of Parliament I said my goodbye’s to both Jonathon and Sarah, I thanked them for looking after me.

Soon we were on the tube to Euston and then back on the train to Birmingham. Our long day was almost over.

On the journey home Andrew asked me why he thought I was asked to come down to London to talk? “Because it’s important that MP’s hear our views and for us to express our points.”. I added “Not just me but people like Helene (my friend and neighbour) and Scott (also a neighbour) too”

I asked Andrew if he could fetch me another cup of coffee. I think I deserved one.


Read more about the government’s inquiry into supported living and the changes to how supported living will be funded in the future on the Parliament website.

You can watch video footage of Joe giving evidence to MPs on the Parliament TV website.

Find out more about Sense’s supported living services which allow people who are deafblind, those with sensory impairments and those with complex needs – to enjoy more independence, choice and control.

Joe Coffin

Author: Joe Coffin

Joe lives at one of Sense's supporting living accommodation and works at Sense

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