My name is Helen and I have cerebral palsy.
I was born in Nyasaland (now Malawi), Africa, in 1958 where I developed whooping-cough while only a matter of days old. This led to me spending the majority of the first five months of my life in hospital, and which left parts of my brain damaged.
As a result, a medical definition of me is that I have cerebral palsy. This affects my ability to walk, my manual dexterity and my speech but not my intelligence! This is only a tiny part of me however, and I admit to being irritated by being defined in this way alone as it omits anything that I perceive as 'me'
I live in Kent, in a bungalow with live-in personal assistants. I was able to select where I live thanks to Notting Hill Housing Trust and I am paying a mortgage on 70% of the property and paying rent on the remainder. My assistants are sourced through a care agency, Christies Care, and I have far more say in who provide my help than I ever did in a residential service in Milton Keynes.