I was reunited with Kevin, 10 years after helping him move into Sense supported living

Two photos of the same two smiling men, arm in arm. The photo on the left is 10 years ago, and the photo on the right is present day.

I’ve worked for Sense for almost two decades in many different roles. More than ten years ago, I met Kevin  who was then a young man using Sense day services and living at home with his mum.

Back then I was an education tutor who led art sessions, and my connection with Kevin focused around creativity and art. I’d support and encourage Kevin who’d create beautiful pieces often focused on important events in his life. I particularly recall one piece Kevin created, which was a painting of a beautiful garden, about the passing of his father.

Over the years we built a friendship, and art was our way of connecting.

Kevin’s transition into Sense accommodation

There was a time when Kevin needed to move out of his mother’s house and we looked at lots of different options for him; he chose to move into a Sense home. I was part of the team that helped Kevin make this significant move into Sense accommodation, whilst continuing to access the Sense Centre in Barnet.

In 2008, I left London. I’ve often asked after Kevin, and he has always done the same with me.

Connecting people and breaking barriers

Today I’m an operations manager looking after Sense accommodation in the East of England. As part of my role, I’ve been a member of the Sense ‘relationships group’. We established the group to start looking at barriers to friendship, and why some relationships become distant or stop. As part of this project, we decided to run a ‘relationships week’, during which time, we gave people supported by Sense the chance to reconnect with old friends and form new friendships over coffee and cake. These meetups were coordinated by managers across Sense services, and often we found connections between people who’d been together many years ago, but had since become separated when life events happened.

After 10 years I was reunited with Kevin

Two smiling men talking and drinking coffee at a table in a cafe

I spoke to all the people close to Kevin about the possibility of meeting up with him, and to check it was something he wanted to do. Everyone was thrilled at the idea, but many told me he also wanted something more long-term as well. Kevin often said he wanted a pen pal, and I felt this was something I could do with him.

Until recently, the last time I’d seen Kevin was 10 years ago. But with the support of those around him, I planned a day trip to visit and surprise him at one of our centres. I went with cake and coffee and we finally met up after all these years.

Kevin seemed really pleased to see me, and we caught up over old times. Kevin told me what he’d been up to since we last saw each other. I asked him about whether he’d like me to be his pen pal, and he said he’d like that very much. We’re hoping this is something Kevin will benefit from In the future, and also will keep us connected and give us the chance to meet more often, have more chats, and maybe some more coffee and cake.

You can watch the moment Kevin and I were reunited, in the embedded video below, or view it on YouTube.

Learn more about Sense Living and the housing options and individual support services we provide for people with complex disabilities.

Find rewarding roles and jobs in social care with Sense. Visit https://jobs.sense.org.uk/vacancies/

Author: Barry Spicer

Barry is an operations manager for Sense in the East of England, overseeing some of Sense's accommodation services.

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