Mikey, Malachy and Rachel were filmed by Matthew, who is based in Sweden, explaining — and showing — how they live independent lives in the Athlone network with the support of StepIn Independent Living.
Matthew, who cut his teeth with the BBC and Channel 4 making shows such as The Great British Bake Off, follows the friends as they go about their lives: shopping in Supervalu, Monksland; chatting with the staff; sharing a cup of tea at home; doing the household chores; watching a video together.
The film is intended to show how it’s possible to live with real independence — more fulfilled, engaged lives as good neighbours in the community.
Matthew said: “We followed Mikey to the local supermarket where it was almost comical how many people he knew and who stopped to chat. When we eventually made it back home to Mikey’s, his housemate Malachy returned and found us filming, it was up to Mikey to explain what was going on and reassure Mal.
“You got a strong sense of how the members can help each other with life and the outside world, and that I suppose is the point of the network. Mikey and Mal sat down to watch a film together. By now I’d stopped seeing them as disabled and just saw them as a couple of mates sharing a house, as most of us have done at some point in our lives.”
Also shown in the short film are Aisling Hynes and Louise Coll, staff members with StepIn, who provide practical support but stand back to allow Mikey, Rachel, Malachy and others to live their own lives.
“Once you take a step back you realise that people are very much well able to do things for themselves says,” Aisling, the Supported Living Coordinator for StepIn, based in Roscommon.
Tea with Mikey was released on YouTube in August and will also be screened at conferences, explaining the impact of StepIn’s approach to independent living.
To watch Tea with Mikey click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwWCuFbe8aE&t=4s