Based on all that happened with my PA/carer and the other students, my emotions felt all over the place. I felt I had lost control and didn’t know what was going to happen next.
After the mediation meeting, the girls and I had to sign a contract to agree to stay away from each other, but this hadn’t helped.
My friend felt helpless and devastated about all that had happened, she felt the only way for her to be happy was if she left the university.
My morning carer was fantastic through it all; she was always there when I needed her. Even though it took its toll especially as she was asked to cover for my PA/carer on such short notice she was still there.
As time went on, we became increasingly frustrated with the agency. My morning carer was only supposed to be filling in temporarily – but with the lack of news regarding a replacement she continued working.
One evening a family friend and her daughter visited me to cheer me up. They noticed the distress I was in and asked me how I was feeling. Their kindness and concern was so moving,
I couldn’t take it anymore and I broke down in tears. I bet they wished they had never asked me, as my emotions ran away with me. They were shocked and tried to calm me down but I couldn’t stop sobbing.
Once they had gone, I felt broken; I phoned and arranged to go home. I had a long discussion with my parents about all that had happened.
We talked at length about my options, deciding that I needed some time to figure out what I needed and wanted.
I needed to get my head straight. As it stood at that time, I felt drained and doubted my feelings towards university and whether I wanted to go back to university at all.
As a result of this difficult time I found how important my family and friends were to me.
In my previous years of childhood, I had formed a close circle of friends who had always managed to make me laugh, make light of situations and give me interesting words of advice.
There were also another two girls that I had become close with from PHAB camps, who happened to come to the same college the year after we met.
With the number of friends that I was surrounded with I began to feel better and figure out what I wanted to do next with either staying at university, changing university or getting a job or an internship.
We made a plan of action to speak to the agency about what happened with the first PA/carer and address how serious it was.
The agency accepted this and so we told them we wanted to find a new PA/carer with more experience and who was more open minded. Along with this we would focus on finishing the first year and then decide on the second year.
I would move in to the flat to avoid all the drama in the halls of residence. Then with more reassurance I felt more happy and comfortable to return to university.
The following weekend I went back to Southampton. We spoke to the agency and expressed the amount of distress I had been and was in. The agency was sympathetic and determined to not let it happen in the future.
After being at university for a few days the agency told me they had been advertising and interviewing for a suitable candidate to suit my needs and myself.
They reassured us they were taking it more seriously this time round and this was why the process was taking longer than before. I was able to feel hopeful.
Second Wave with New Carer
The agency contacted us telling about a girl who had previously been supporting another student at Southampton Solent University, for two years.
This young carer was ready for a change and the agency decided to introduce her to us. We agreed and went along to the interview with an open mind.
She was a nice enough girl but she seemed rather short tempered. I found that she wasn’t very sociable, she preferred to spend time in her room and I began to feel very lonely.
When I felt increasing lonely I reminded myself that I only had a few months left and I had moved to the flat to get more sleep and be able to relax more.
This was to allow me to be able to concentrate on the aspects of my course. I enjoyed living at the flat, compared to the halls and had a big comfy bed to sleep in, working heating and a TV with more than three channels.
This and having my own things, I felt more like I was at home, which made the last few months of the academic year easier.
As time went on I started to feel a degree of independence with the amount of time I spent on my own.
Through the whole experience with both PA/carer’s, it has got me to think about my expectations of what a PA should be like and what I’d do in the future if the same situation were to arise again.
The experience also proved to me that I wanted to be like every other student, to go out and party.