Harry sitting on the sofa in his lounge, looking through a book



Harry, 21, moved into one of our supported living schemes in Downhead Park, Milton Keynes, in September last year, having previously lived with his parents. He’s one of 11 young men who live in this particular scheme that Grand Union have been managing since July 2019.

Harry loves having his own place, he said: “My home is very important to me because it’s actually made me closer to my parents. When I lived with them we argued sometimes, but since living on my own we get on so much better. I enjoy having days out with them and also having time by myself.

“I think my flat is really nice and it makes me feel safe and secure. I call it my homepad.

“I can phone for repairs by myself and talk to people if I have a problem. It’s made me more independent.”

Marcus Olozulu is the Independent Living Officer for the scheme. He said: “When Harry first moved to his new home, he would have bad panic attacks; once he was rushed to hospital as it was so bad. Anxiety can be a big issue with people with autism.”

“He soon learnt to cope and knowing he had me on the end of the phone in the week, if he needed me, also helped. Meeting with him when he was anxious has improved things, plus at night-time, there’s a concierge present.

“Harry was quite timid to begin with, but he’s definitely come a long way since living there. I’m really proud of him.

“He keeps his flat very clean and tidy and does his own laundry and washing up as well.”

Harry standing in his garden

Marcus visits the scheme two or three times a week to support residents with their benefits, especially Housing Benefit, and to follow up on any repair issues. Along with a fellow colleague, he’ll get stuck in to assembling their furniture too!

“I give advice on various things like ways to save money, maintaining good mental health, health and safety in their home, healthy eating and any tenancy rules. Recently, I had to get pest control out to treat a wasp nest as Harry is allergic to wasp stings.

“I also support the residents emotionally and will mediate between them sometimes when issues crop up. Often I’ll signpost them to other agencies so that they can fill their time but with lockdown this has been difficult.”

Harry is proud to work for a hospital radio in Milton Keynes once a week, a role he loves. He joined a community centre, but this has been on hold due to the coronavirus situation.

“Harry’s a big fan of 80s music and particularly loves Bob Marley, as you can see from his t-shirt. He has his own DJ music deck which he thoroughly enjoys.”

Harry added: “I’ve made new friends since living here, I can watch what I want on TV and I can play my music a bit louder than when I lived at my parents!”