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60 stories - Pat Christie

Pat with a photo of her daughter Fiona and the crystal bowl she was presented with at Enable's 50th Anniversary​Pat with a photo of her daughter Fiona and the crystal bowl she was presented with at ENABLE’s 50th anniversary.

A move from Reading to Glasgow marked the beginning of Pat Christie’s long association with ENABLE Scotland. 
 
Having moved to the ‘dear green place’ in the late 1960’s, Pat and her family were pleased to discover there was a much larger support network for parents with children who had learning disabilities compared services down south.
 
And it didn’t take long for Pat to get involved with her local ENABLE branch.
 
“I went along to a meeting when we came to Glasgow and sort of got roped in,” explained Pat.
 
“Roped in” is probably a bit of an understatement.  Pat helped the branch to fundraise and rolled up her sleeves to become involved in many different activities.
 
Soon, the branch raised enough cash to buy a property of its own and even though it wasn’t perfect and had access issues, Pat is still proud of the branch’s achievement.
 
The property in question was Curran House in the Charing Cross area of Glasgow.  For many years it remained the branch’s headquarters where the group organised trips, raised funds and held social nights.  
 
Soon Pat and Trish Anderson became vice chairs of the branch and Pat was among those involved in the establishment of ENABLE Homes.
 
The project helped to house people with more severe learning disabilities in their own homes rather than in long stay institutions – a concept previously considered impossible.
 
Pat hampioned the project, based on her firm belief in independent living - especially for people whose parents were getting older. 
 
Her daughter, Fiona, who has a learning disability, left the family home in 1998 and now lives with three other people in a semi-detached house, supported by Real Life options.
 
“I was lucky to find a place for Fiona,” said Pat, “but many people achieve that. But you’ve got to think ahead. What happens when the parent becomes very elderly and not only infirm but not mentally alert?  It has become an important role for ENABLE:  supporting older carers.”
 
As well as being vice chair of the Glasgow ENABLE branch, Pat became involved with the Scottish Council and then in 2001 became the chairperson of ENABLE Scotland.  When ENABLE Scotland celebrated its 50th anniversary, Pat was presented with a decorative crystal bowl to recognise all the work she had done for people who have learning disabilities.  
 
Pat has made many friends through the organisation and she values the social aspect of ENABLE especially during times when other people were less than understanding. 
 
Regrettably, she and her family were often subjected to cruel comments.  
 
Remembers Pat: “Fiona had a thing when she came off the bus where she always yelled. A group of women at the neighbouring bowling green would shout at me, telling to tell my child to shut up. That was not uncommon in those days but you learn to have a very thick skin over the years.”
 
Pat and Fiona have appreciated the support network ENABLE has provided especially at a local level and are grateful to volunteers for their hard work.
 
“Volunteers are so good at supporting not only the person who has learning disabilities but their whole family too.  They support them in ways you might not think, and through difficult times.”
 
Having stepped down as chair of ENABLE Scotland in 2004, Pat now leads a less hectic life.
 
She maintains a keen interest in ENABLE Scotland affairs and is grateful for what the organisation does for her and her family.
 
“I hope I have contributed enough to ENABLE to repay what I received from it.  I can’t claim to have influenced the organisation much but I think by just being willing to take on whatever was needed to be done has helped.”

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