Bryan (40) and Warren (38) are both non-verbal, they both have a learning disability and complex needs, which requires 24-hour care.

The Henry brothers have been supported by Mencap NI to live together in a bungalow just outside Omagh, County Tyrone after many years apart as there was previously no housing solution available to allow them to live together.

Before the move to their new adapted home, Warren lived at home with their parents, Bob and Isobel. Bryan had lived in a nursing home 33 miles away from the family home since 1994, which meant that it was difficult for his parents to visit him more than once a week whilst caring for Warren.

Bob and Isobel have campaigned for more suitable and independent living arrangements for their sons for over twenty years. They sought the assistance of everyone who could help, including local politicians.

Bob said:

‘This move has been good for all of us as a family. It is a huge weight off our shoulders, neither of us is getting any younger and this has given us peace of mind for the future.’

 

Bryan and Warren share the property with two other adults with a learning disability and have carers to look after them at all times. They enjoy the independence they can have in their own home and the calm and welcoming atmosphere it brings.

Mencap NI believe people with a learning disability should have a real choice about where they live and who they live with, so housing is tailored to meet an individual’s needs and aspirations. Bryan and Warren’s story shows how enabling people with a learning disability to live independently can transform lives and address inequality.

Bob and Isobel have described their son’s home as, ‘The answer to our prayers.’

‘This move has been good for all of us as a family. It is a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. Neither of us is getting any younger but this has given us peace of mind for the future.’

‘Most importantly the boys are together again at last, they are happy here and they are well cared for. We feel like we have gained an extended family through their carers.’

 

‘Our sons will never be able to look after themselves, but this type of supported independent living is more than we would ever have dreamed of for them.’

‘We cannot express what this means for us as a family. We can call and see our sons whenever we want, just for 5 minutes after shopping or for a couple of hours at a time, we are safe in the knowledge that our sons are content in what we can only describe as a home from home.’

Barry McMenamin, Regional Operations Manager for Mencap Northern Ireland commented:

‘This has been a great success story and proves the importance of building a housing solution around the needs of families and future planning. Mencap worked closely with the family and the Western Health Trust to come up with a solution where we accessed capital from our sister charity Golden Lane Housing, using their innovative Retail Charity Bond. We were able to find the right solution for all concerned.’

The Henry family are calling on the public to #MoveIt4Mencap at this year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon to help raise funds for people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland and their families.

In our third and final year of being charity partners with Belfast City Marathon, we are setting our biggest target yet in an aim to improve, with your help, all of our services including our Housing and Personal Support Service across Northern Ireland.