I’m Charlie Morton. I have cerebral palsy and autism, as well as dyslexia and dyspraxia and learning difficulties.
I was referred to the wheelchair service for a wheelchair as I have cerebral palsy. My health is deteriorating and some days I have difficulty walking and moving around. However, I was unhappy because I was told that I was a safety risk for a powerchair because I have autism.
I made some comments on a Facebook post and received a message from Jane, who manages the social media on behalf of AJM.
Jane introduced me to Sue, the partnership and engagement manager who invited me to join the North West London service user forum.
I was also introduced to Neil, the service operations manager who invited me to have a guided tour round the Park Royal service centre and ‘shadow’ him to understand how the service works. This was arranged for the same day I went to the centre to have my wheelchair fixed.
On the day of my visit, Neil met my taxi at the door of the centre and gave me a visitor pass. He then told me what to do and where to go if there was a fire. We got ready for the two meetings I was going to shadow him in; one with HR and one with the procurement team. The meetings were being held online for safety because of the pandemic.
The first meeting was with Neil and Louie from Park Royal and Abbie from HR. Abbie explained how AJM use e-learning to deliver some of the staff training; it was really interesting to see how they do it. It’s all linked in with the HR system so they can see who has completed the training and who still needs to do it.
AJM is not just the North West London Wheelchair Service, but has about 270 staff in the UK. Abbie explained how she works with Neil and all the managers across the country to make sure that all the staff are trained so that the wheelchair users get a great service.
When the HR meeting was finished, I met Tim and Gemma from the procurement team. In short, the team buys the chairs for AJM and they work with the supplier companies to make sure that the right chairs are available for service users.
After we’d had lunch – I had pizza and Fanta and Neil had salad – we started my tour of the centre.
First, I met the customer service team who made me feel really welcome and explained that they take all the calls that come into Park Royal.
When people arrive at the centre for their assessments, they wait in the waiting room, where there are lots of information leaflets and a TV with a video about the service, the Facebook group, and pictures of all the staff with a little bit about what they do in their jobs and in their spare time. It’s a great idea and a good way to get to know people before you see them. If you have autism and need to know what goes on, it will help you prepare yourself before going into a room to be seen.
Then I saw the warehouse, where all the wheelchairs are kept. I saw how the chairs leave the warehouse. Because I had a problem with my old chair, Louie took a look at it and discussed it with one of the occupational therapists. They decided to give me a different chair which would be better for my needs. While Louie was getting my chair ready, Neil and I carried on with the tour.
After the tour, we started to put together a presentation about my day for me to share with the service user forum at the next meeting.
At 1.55pm, it was time to leave. Louie had my new wheelchair ready to try. It was great and I was very happy that I could go home with my new chair.
I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to AJM who made this amazing day happen. I would also like to say a GREAT BIG THANK YOU in no order to Gemma, Tim, Abbie and Neil, who all spent the time with me, Sofia who helped me sort out getting there and Louie who sorted out my chair like it was a F1 pit stop. I’ll never forget this day, AJM have an amazing team in Park Royal – thank you for hiring the best of the best 😊
Now a little about me.
I run Disability Voice in my spare time. Disability Voice stands up for anyone with a disability – fighting for our rights and giving the disabled a voice and a platform to be heard. I can be contacted via the website at https://www.disabilityvoice.org for any help you may need.