The ‘My Voice My Choice’ conference in Athlone was excellent. There was nothing bad about it at all. There were some very good stories and experiences shared by service users over the two days. We found one particular story very interesting. It was by a person by the name of Jean Wright who is a service user in Peamount Hospital. She spoke about her experience in Peamount. She spoke about how she would like her own room and her own place to live. She also said that she would like a job and told us that she was not happy that she did not have full control over her disability allowance. She asked the question whether the service could take her disability book from her. She was told that they could not take it from her and that they did not have the right to do so.
On the first day, we made a presentation together about living independently. We spoke about our experience living together in our new home and answered any questions. We also showed a film, which was recorded by the television programme ‘360’ on our new lives.
One of the other presentations, which we found very useful, was by Ita Mangan. She spoke about social welfare benefits and the Disability Allowance. She was very good. She talked about the new health charges and explained them to us. She also answered any questions we had on the new charges.
That night we all went to the conference dinner. We all enjoyed the music and the entertainment and everybody was up dancing. The next day we went to the workshop about rights awareness. It was very good. I felt that there should have been more self-advocates at this workshop as it is important to know about your rights.
We enjoyed the two days and found the presentations very useful. The hotel and staff in Athlone were very nice. We look forward to next year’s conference.