I am a single woman who lives alone in a funky apartment and loves life. I don’t have an Individual Support Package (ISP) – the current state funding system for people with a disability. Nor do I receive any support through my local council. I am fairly independent except for the support I receive from my family and friends.
Living on the first floor of an apartment building is great. My apartment is at the front of the building so I get to do a lot of people watching – one of my favorite pastimes. I like to imagine what their lives are like and what their secrets are. I like checking out their outfits and hair styles. I enter their worlds and leave mine for a few minutes.
One of the best things about living on the first floor is that I’m not too far from the basement where I park my car. So if there is a fire in the building it’s not too hard for me to climb downstairs.
When people meet me they look at my walking frame and jump to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to handle stairs. In actual fact I can manage them if there is railing or if people support me by holding my arm. What I can’t manage is lugging Scarlett (my walking frame) up and down the stairs along with me. If I were to do that it would surely end badly!
Anyway, recently the lift in our building broke down on at least two occasions. This has been quite distressing for me as I didn’t want to spend all day inside watching daytime television and missing work (I know I’m a sucker for work).
I like being as independent as I can be. I don’t really like asking for help and I don’t like the attention that goes with it.
However, being on my own and not prepared to stay at home all day, I had no alternative but to reach out to my neighbours. The lovely retired middle-aged couple next to me; the groovy and striking 40-something year-old woman who lives with her foreign boyfriend on the fourth floor and the young couple who live on the third floor. These are just some of the friendly people living in my building.
They have all been amazing. Sending me texts letting me know they are around to help out when I need it. While I climb the stairs, clinging to the railing, they walk slowly behind me carrying Scarlett and watching me at the same time. At the end of my long trip they always let me know that they are available and to just give them a call.
While I wait for my ISP to be accepted or for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to finally be rolled out, I need to learn to accept help from my neighbours. And what a great bunch of people they are!