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Neighbourhood Networks
Ben Brown sitting on a sofa and smiling.

Ben Brown

Independent Network

Ben joined the Penicuik network around 2015. Ben’s mum shares that the main reason for Ben joining the network was so that he could connect with people. She describes him as a homebird and a follower rather than a leader. She thinks that has always been the case and something that is naturally part of who Ben is. However, she believed Neighbourhood Networks could help him create connections with peers in the community. Ben was shy and anxious at the beginning of his membership, however has worked hard on coming out of his shell.

Being part of the network has given Ben the opportunity to connect with peers and take part in many different activities. Ben says that he particularly enjoyed going to the cinema and bowling. Ben’s main takeaway from his time in the network is that he has created friendships and that he has grown in confidence.

Ben was supported to practice independent travel with his Community Living Worker. This helped him to attend more activities and get a volunteering position in Edinburgh. That support has made a massive change to Ben’s life and independence.

In April 2023 Ben joined the Midlothian Independent Network, which is a testament to the progress he has made over the years. He is an active member of his community having multiple volunteering positions at local establishments. Ben stays connected with his community that way and it brings him happiness. Ben has found the confidence to leave his hometown – Penicuik – and go to Edinburgh for activities. He hopes that he and the other independent network members will start to explore what Edinburgh has to offer soon.

Ben’s mum was also approached to share her views on Ben’s journey. She thinks that Ben’s confidence and independence have grown substantially thanks to his membership. He is now able to go out with people without the need for her to be there. Ben has started to use the WhatsApp group chat on his own, which is something he had relied on his mum doing in the past. Ben’s mum also acknowledges the positive impact this journey has had on her. It means Ben is less reliant and dependent on her presence and support. Ben is now able to go out without her for social reasons and to do things like get a haircut. Ben’s Mum commented,  ‘All these years ago, I never thought Ben would go out by himself and do all these things. The network improved his independence a lot.’

Ben’s Worker, Pat, commented, ‘Ben has come on leaps and bounds particularly with his independent travel’.

And finally Ben summed up his experience with the network so far, ‘I feel more confident now and I’m happy that I have things to do and can meet with people for coffee.’

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