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Caroline Terry, trustee, talks about the importance of family in our projects

Photo: Caroline Terry, trustee, at the House of Lords in 2018, when she first learnt about Field Lane's work

How long have you been a trustee for Field Lane (FL)?

I’ve been a trustee for 18 months and sit on the finance committee. I work in the financial services sector, for an investment bank, so am able to use my expertise in carrying out my trustee role.

Why did you choose FL as the charity you wanted to get involved with?

I’m also a trustee of the Old Vic Theatre’s Endowment Fund. The theatre undertook a collection for Field Lane during its production of A Christmas Carol in 2018 and I was asked to attend a reception the charity was giving for its donors at the House of Lords. It was there that I really discovered Field Lane and it instantly resonated with me. My brother, Simon was mentally and physically disabled through being brain injured at birth. He died in 2016, aged 52. He’d been in institutional care, mainly in hospital-type accommodation, most of his life. In 2002 he moved into a care home that was similar to Field Lane’s support-living projects. For the first time in his life he had his own room and could start to lead a more independent life. Simon was such a big part of my own life; he was such a beautiful man and I was so proud of him. I wanted to do something positive for people with disabilities, who are so often hidden and marginalised.

Having a disabled sibling or child can put a huge strain on a family. I know this from personal experience. We coped as a family, but it wasn’t easy. Managing Simon’s needs and constantly worrying about him put a huge strain on our parents. Field Lane provides an environment that is not only accepting of people with learning disabilities but their families too. It truly understands what is like to live with a disabled family member. This really hit a nerve with me, and I wanted to contribute to the charity, to help in a practical way.

What has surprised you most about working with FL?

It’s a hidden gem! I have dealt with similar care organisations from the other side, when my brother was alive, Field Lane is exemplary. It is such a professional and well-managed business, and yet it is a charity. It is robust in its practices and is truly client centred. That is its key strength – in everything, the clients are at the heart of decision-making.

What do you wish other people knew about FL?

I wish more people knew about our work, which is vital within the community. Field Lane gives adults with learning disabilities life chances they wouldn’t otherwise have. It changes their lives, for the better. We put our clients at the centre. We support people in a supported home environment that is not only good for our clients but also for their families, who can get on with their own lives knowing that their loved ones are well cared for, whilst still being able to stay actively involved in their loved one’s care. It is like a child or sibling having the usual ‘rite of passage’, in moving away from the parental home. Field Lane provides a safe and secure new home that offers clients the opportunity to grow and live their lives to the best of their ability.

What is your hope for the future of FL, its clients and staff, especially post-Covid?

I want Field Lane to continue to grow in a managed way, remaining client centric. We need to continue supporting our staff, who are amazing people. I have great admiration for them, and we need to recognise fully their contribution. As with the elderly, people with disabilities are often marginalised. The work that we are doing at Field Lane to counter this is so valuable and important for our society.

I am concerned about what the future holds for our sector, especially in light of the Coronavirus crisis, but I’m confident in the groundwork that has been done at Field Lane. We're in a strong position to grow, whilst still maintaining the values and ethics that are at the heart of our charity.

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