Shahin's story

Ravenswood has enabled Shahin to live an empowered and fulfilled life

Ravenswood Village has been home to my big brother Shahin for 23 years.

I remember how hard our parents fought for him to live there, it wasn’t easy to get in. We spent hours and hours in meeting after meeting trying to get him the very best life. I remember back then feeling very sceptical that anywhere would be better than our family home, but without a doubt Ravenswood Village has given my brother a home above and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of. He has lived there for the majority of his life, since he was 16 years old. His life has been second to none and I am grateful every single day for Ravenswood.

We live in a world which has generally been made for the average person. Shahin has brain damage, epilepsy and severe learning disabilities; as a result he is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair. Growing up in London, everyday things were needlessly harder for Shahin. Ravenswood however was designed with people who are differently abled at the forefront. In doing so, Ravenswood has enabled Shahin to live an empowered and fulfilled life. Shahin has a vast array of activities on offer to him as well as the independence to choose whether he wants to be involved or not. He is safe to use all the facilities and the entire village is accessible for his needs.

On Wednesday mornings Shahin cycles with the cycling team around the Village to his heart’s content

Shahin’s home has it’s own sensory room which stimulates his mind and is a lot of fun. For example he can sit on his bean bag and relax there or he can join in a karaoke party with his flatmates. It was here in this sensory room where he first met his nephew and they got to hang out together- proving himself the coolest uncle.

On the wall of Shahin's home, there is a photograph of him next to HRH Queen Elizabeth – she is the Patron of Ravenswood and Shahin met her when she came to the village to officially open his home. How many of us can say the same?!

Shahin enjoys music with Martin and art with Yulia. On Tuesdays he uses the hydrotherapy pool at Ravenswood, where he is able to exercise freely. It has sensory equipment projecting a light show onto the ceiling, which Shahin loves to look at while swimming and shouts in happiness. Being non-verbal, hearing Shahin vocalise his joy is a gift. Ravenswood has it’s own synagogue, where Shahin sits with all his friends in the front row each week (prior to the restrictions of the pandemic). Every festival is celebrated with his home covered in decorations. There is a vibrant café at the heart of the Village where we have; celebrated birthdays, danced at discos, played bingo and eaten ice-creams together.

Shahin loves being active, especially outdoors. Wednesday mornings Shahin cycles with the cycling team around the Village to his heart’s content. There is also a stables at Ravenswood where Shahin and the other residents enjoy regularly seeing the horses. Every Wednesday afternoon he goes horse riding with the use of a carriage designed for wheelchair users. Shahin has the biggest smile on his face and it is wonderful to see him being in his element.

Shahin is over 6-foot-tall, but because he uses a wheelchair he is often below eye level, which means people look down when interacting with him. However horse riding gives Shahin a chance to feel as tall as he naturally is. Being around the horses brings him so much joy and I love nothing more than getting to cheer him on as he rides across the village. These horses are part of his world at Ravenswood, he has known the horses and the staff at the stables for many years.

Shahin is well known- not just in Ravenswood but in the wider Wokingham world

Another highlight of Shahin’s experience has been going skiing at The Snow Centre. I was excited to see Shahin’s first time on the snow with my camera ready to take a thousand photographs… and standing next to me were Amy and Dan, Ravenswood staff members equally excited, clapping and cheering him on just as loudly. They and all the staff are my brother’s family, and care for him as dearly as I do.

The majority of staff have been at Ravenswood for many years and have watched Shahin grow into the fantastic man he is today. As we walk around Ravenswood every single person says hello and knows my brother by name. This closeness does not by any means come at the cost of inclusivity or openness- Ravenswood is a community within a community. When we are out and about around Wokingham, the supermarkets or to the garden centres- Wokingham locals often stop to say hello to Shahin. He reaches out to people- mostly with his facial expressions and sounds but also sometimes quite literally reaches out his arm to shake hands or slap people on the back (his highest compliment)! After all Shahin has been living in Berkshire and been going to these places several times a week his entire adult life- both with us each weekend as a family but also in his daily life with Ravenswood.

Shahin is well known- not just in Ravenswood but in the wider Wokingham world. My brother is part of the fabric of these communities and I am incredibly proud of him for that.

With Ravenswood, the world is a better place and our community one to be extremely proud of. My brother does not just simply exist in this world, he truly lives a full and vibrant life. We must protect Ravenswood, not just for the community living there today, who deserve to continue living their lives fully, but also secure it’s future for many generations to come.


Shahin's Sister

Ravenswood Village is currently under consultation with the possibility of closure. Please show your support for our families and friends to keep their home by signing the petition below. These are vulnerable people who deserve to continue to live where they feel happy, loved and safe.

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