Monthly Archives: January 2017

“If you help people they can do so much more.”

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Wendy, volunteer and film fan 

Wendy saw the private screening at Picturehouse, Piccadilly Circus: “I enjoyed the film. It made me think of how my sister has helped me. How if you help people they can do so much more, that’s what the film showed me”.

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Katie Hollier, Mencap:  “Wendy is my friend. She has mild autism but that is not how I think of her. She is funny, brave, honest and insightful. She volunteers with me and I always enjoy going anywhere with her because I know we will have a good time together.”

“Summer In The Forest shows what life is all about”

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By Katie Hollier, Trustee, Royal Mencap Society.

I’ve worked with people with learning disabilities for over 20 years and this film truly reflects what it is like to do so.

What strikes me as I get older is that we all have gaps somewhere in our psyche, whether it’s an emotional shortfall or something missing in the intellect.  The standard response to this is to find a way of filling that gap, fretting over what is missing.  This is where we can all learn a lot from people with learning disabilities.

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It seems to me that they compensate for what they may not have intellectually or emotionally by focusing on the things that make life enjoyable and worthwhile; relationships, music, cooking, sharing and learning. They rarely focus on political divides, and when they do, it’s generally to offer a view that we should help each other more.

Watching Summer In The Forest alerts you to this in a beautiful way.  It reaches out to one’s sense of what it is to be human and what it is to lead a worthwhile life. It talked to me of how it feels to connect with each other, make peace – and what life is all about.

I especially loved the episodes in the car, where Michel and his carer are laughing and joking, and also sharing some quite serious thoughts about Michel’s past.  It’s a part of the film that really resonates because they interact as equals, learning and teaching each other just by spending time together.  The helpers were like the helpers I work with – engaged and rewarded.