‘Sharing my story has really helped people’
Two months ago, the Melton Times highlighted the plight of Ben Canham, who lives with Aspergers, during lockdown.
Here Ben take up the story of how his life has changed since then:
“Since my last article was posted on May 28, I was amazed at the response that it got and the support I had through Twitter and Facebook.
“I was really surprised when I was asked to go on BBC Radio Leicester morning show with Jimmy Carpenter and that I also received additional support from a number of autistic charities, who shared my story on their websites.
“I have also been very touched by the people who have contacted me to say that sharing my story has really helped them.
“One of the reasons I shared my story was that I felt people that have disabilities like me were being ignored and I feel this came through in some of messages I was sent by people in similar situations.
“During the whole lockdown I was only contacted twice by my counsellor and these were very brief conversations.
“The 16 weeks of lockdown were really tough as I missed the human face-to-face contact and although I had friend in Scotland who phoned me every day and we were both able to help each other through this difficult time, it was not the same as seeing someone in person.
“Those of you that read my article may remember that I was attacked prior to lockdown and this has had a major impact on me leaving my home by myself and still leaves me feeling unsafe. The result of this was that the easing of lockdown did not make much difference to my situation as I was still fearful of leaving the house unaccompanied.
“The sad thing is that a number of my friends are fearful of the virus and don’t want to meet up. Fortunately one of my friends who lives in Coventry invited me for an overnight stay and came to pick me up in his car.
“After 16 weeks inside it was a wonderful feeling to have the fresh air and face-to-face human contact once more. One of the really scary things on our drive to Coventry was seeing the police enforcing the Leicester lockdown, which reminded me that the virus is still there.
“After my trip to Coventry one my friends suggested that I visit them and have a break away from home. I feel relieved about this as I was living on takeaways and still confined to the house. On our journey to their house I felt confident wearing my mask, which got sent to me from the USA by a friend. I went into a shop unaccompanied and bought a few things. I was aware that one or two people stared at me with my mask on but I agree that it is a good thing to do in shops and crowded places.
“My experience in lockdown made me realise despite the fact I have a lot of virtual friends on Twitter and Facebook, some of whom phone me regularly, how much I value having face-to-face contact with my friends who live locally.”