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I care: Roxanne

Roxanne is a qualified dance movement psychotherapist who has run workshops for carer and their families. She is also a full-time carer for her older sister, Kelly, who has Down's syndrome.


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We're a very close family - my mum, me dad, Kelly and me - and we've always made an effort to get our and about, doing lots of things. I did trampolining when I was younger, at quite a high level, and Kelly would come too. We had great fun and it was really good for our health too (I had bad asthma from childhood, and Kelly needed operations on her heart and her lungs). 

I've always loved dancing and went to performing arts college in Bedfordshire at the age 19. I'd come home at weekends and in the holidays, and Kelly used to come and stay with me during the week sometimes. I had a big double bed so she'd just jump in with me. 

After my time at college, I realised I wanted to learn more about dance technique, so, having moved back home, I went to the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds to my dance degree and I commuted there everyday. When I graduated I ran lots of workships in schools and for various projects, but I felt I needed to do something for. 

When I discovered the Dance and Movement Psychotherapy Masters course at Derby, I found what I was looking for. When I was younger I'd always said I wanted to be a doctor, and this course seemed to combine my medical interests with me love of dance. I completed the course between 2012 and 2014 and it was pretty intense at times. I had to undergo 80 hours of therapy myself, as well as analyse others and undertake work placements too. 

One of my placements turned out to be at the day centre Kelly was attending - I never undertook any therapy work with her but we did do dance work together. Kelly was becoming increasingly unhappy at the centre, largely because she lost her provision of one-to-one support, and I'm thankful I was able to support her voice because I'd been there with her. Kelly needed to move on, and that's when we decided she needed a different kind of caring environment. 

I'd cared for Kelly on and off since I was 16, and took on her full-time care a couple of years ago. Mum and dad were unsure at first because they wanted both Kelly and me to have our own lives too, but I reassured them that I would be much happier if I knew Kelly was being well looked after. 

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After a long struggle getting Kelly's voice heard she has now been given a full time PA budget. Which means she employs me part time as an 'exceptional circumstance' (I still put in extra hours which aren't in the budget!) and we are on the lookout for someone who loves Kelly to bits to work two days a week. 

Kelly enjoys intensive interaction and she also communicates through gesture and Makaton. She's a very sensory person; she loves walking around the lake at the local park to feel the breeze, and she loves going to see Sheffield Wednesday matches to feel the vibrations and hear all the loud sounds. 

Kelly and I also love seeing shows. We recently went to an autism-friendly performance of The Lion King and it was brilliant. We'd been to see it before but it was quite difficult then as we knew we needed to be quiet and be mindful of other people, which can be tricky. 

That's how I see disability - as somethign influenced by a person's environment. The most challenging thing for me as a carer is when Kelly doesn't get her voice heard and I do believe that it's society that disables an individual, rather than someone 'being disabled'. I'd love to see more in the performance world to break down the barriers for people like us. That's my ultimate goal. 

I'll take a step closer to that in the autumn, when I start my PhD at Sheffield University. I'll be focusing on creating health policies to help more disabled people gain access to the arts. 

I joined Carers UK to help strengthen the voice of carers as much as I can and be part of a community of carers who are working together. I want to see a society where there is more laughter, more empathy and more acceptance of difference, to benefit every family, not just families like ours. My experience of caring and my choice of profession have opened me up to so many different points of view and that's what we need to do more of as a society. 

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