Celebrating our volunteers with learning disabilities: Dilesh's story

Published: 5th May 2023

Ahead of Learning Disability Week on 19 June, this is an opportunity to recognise the contributions our volunteers with disabilities make in the trust, what life is like for people living with a learning disability and celebrate the positive impact they make in society.

Dilesh Tanna, one of our brilliant volunteers was born in 1993 with Down‘s syndrome and complex needs. He began volunteering at the Edgware Community Hospital walk-in centre in January 2021 in an effort to make a difference and give back to the local community.

In this video you’ll hear from Dilesh, who talks about his experiences of living with Down’s syndrome, his thoughts on some of the changes that are needed in the community, and how he feels supported in the trust.

Continue reading to learn more about his role, the astounding contributions he made to the trust, and stimulating facts about his achievements.

How I got into volunteering  

People with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can sometimes feel ignored or that their opinions are not taken seriously. For that reason, I started volunteering to assist patients in receiving better care by providing support, comfort, and an understanding of their needs. I achieve this by ensuring that their views are heard, particularly those of black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups.

My favourite part about the role

Encouraging staff and patients at the Edgware walk-in centre to wear the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards in order to enhance the health experience for individuals with hidden disabilities. 

Challenges encountered

Volunteering can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. I can confidently say that I have not come across any challenges within the trust. However in the past I have encountered difficulties introducing the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards to other NHS organisations where I felt I was not receiving adequate support.

I’ve got Down’s syndrome, but did you know…

“I was one of the very first people with a learning disability to go to a mainstream secondary school and complete my GCSE’s.

The Down's Syndrome Association recruited me to speak about my disability in the bill, and the House of Commons passed a bill to help people with learning disabilities find paid work, and my name was mentioned in that bill.

I was rewarded to deliver a speech at the Down's Syndrome Association in which I discussed the challenges I had encountered in my educational journey and how it impacted my transition from high school to college.”

About Down's syndrome

Down's syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. A person with Down's syndrome will have some degree of learning disability, but the level of ability will be different for each individual. This means they may need help with daily life. Some people will be more independent and do things like get a job. Other people might need more regular care.

To find out more about Down's syndrome, visit the NHS website.

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