Meet Jaynie Mitchell
We all have busy lives but for Jaynie Mitchell, married with two young adults living at home, life has taken her down an unexpected path, one that has enriched not only her own life but also of those she and her family come in contact with. It began when her younger son Ross, was diagnosed with Autism when he was only 20 months. Following this news she began researching her son’s diagnosis. Jaynie explained that by the time he was attending a nursery for children with additional support needs, it had become clear that her two sons were “now on completely different paths”. Jaynie, an optimist, felt that she needed to find a more positive way of enabling her son to engage with education and the world around him.
Shortly after Ross’s diagnosis she applied to complete an 8 month course called Partners in Policymaking which she recalls as being a life changing experience. She advised that when she went on this course” it was to find out more about how the system worked and how she could enable Ross to get the best of opportunities”. She recalls Angela Quinn, a Social Worker inviting her to speak to other social workers about her experiences as a mother of a child with additional support needs. In 2000 she completed in a four day Person Centred Planning Course. With her confidence increasing she spoke at a Scottish Human Services (SHS) Conference. This was the organisation that was fundamental in bring person Centred Practices to Scotland. She recalls this experience as a “baptism of fire”.
It was as a result of Partners in Policymaking that Jaynie decided that Ross had the right to attend the local school with his brother. Jaynie always wanted her younger son to have the same opportunities as her eldest, wanting him to experience inclusion in all aspects of his life, particularly education where she hoped he would meet new people and develop friendships. She believes this is the only way we will create a fair and just society where every-one is valued. His education to date has been a mix of specialist and mainstream schools. Barriers have been encountered but Jaynie has met many friends and professionals who have been supportive and played their part in promoting social inclusion. Jaynie recalled an event when her friend, Dr Mary C Schuh, Director at the National Centre in Inclusive Education at the University of New Hampshire, visited and observed her son in class and helped staff and Jaynie gain new insight into how Ross was able to communicate and how others should communicate with him. That moment helped Jaynie’s son to find his voice and vocalise it for the first time. Ross has just left secondary school and Jaynie has been considering how she can help him to fulfil his interest in art and design.
Over the past few years she has continued to build up her professional network by working freelance, ”learning her trade” as she sees it. She has worked with Equal Futures (circles of support) as well as with local authorities in England and Scotland. Jaynie now provides training through Inspiring Inclusion and is also an In-Control associate. She states that “she could not work at all unless it was flexibly and could juggle all of her responsibilities”.
Always a passionate advocate for Self- Directed Support, in 2010 Jaynie and her family participated in the Self- Directed Support pathfinder within North Ayrshire and since then they have utilised SDS. This has enabled the family to achieve “more of a balance in everyone’s life”. For the first time they have been able to have a short break where a Personal support worker joined them for a weekend. Jaynie and her husband were then able to enjoy some time to them-selves. They hope for more opportunities such as this and find that using an SDS budget gives them this flexibility and enables Ross to begin to have a life independent of them.
So what’s next for Jaynie?
“I am going to be delivering the Partners in Policymaking course, facilitate training via In-Control Scotland & Self-Directed Support, looking at its: History, Person Centred Planning and Support Planning as well as Inclusion in Education. There has been a ten year gap as we didn’t have any funding, but I’m delighted more families and disabled adults in Scotland will again be exposed to the best practice in the world”
In additional to this she is also looking at setting up a Social Enterprise scheme with her sons’ need to be in a car utilised to provide a service to the community.
So when does she relax? Jaynie is part of a small knitting group who meet up in each other’s homes. This time is really important to her and gives her time to be creative with craft.
It is apparent that Jaynie Mitchell is a woman who is focussed, assertive, passionate and inspirational in so many ways. She relates much of this back to her son and states that “It is Ross who has enriched my life”. Jaynie has learned so much from him and how he experiences the world and in doing so this has mapped out many new, challenging and rewarding opportunities for her.
If you are interested in finding out more about Jaynies work you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org