DSS Champion Florin Nolan
08 Sep, 2023
Florin Nolan's world is one filled with creative shapes and bright colours. An artist who held his first solo exhibition in Cork City in the winter of 2022, the 24-year-old from Cobh also teaches children and has big plans for the future - both professional and personal.
"I would love to have a girlfriend and get married and have children," Florin says.
Florin has autism. Having been adopted from Romania, he attended mainstream primary school here with the help of an SNA, and then started with the Cope Foundation at second level. As he says, "in public, I would definitely be treated like an adult". But there have still been occasions when it has not been easy. "My mum blocked out my bank account by mistake and couldn’t get it back," Florin explains. "It was a mistake; my mother did an accident."
It meant Florin, alongside his mother, contacted the bank to try and restart the account. "The lady was asking me questions - my PIN, phone number, and all that. I didn’t know them." He needed the immediate assistance of his mother, but their dealings on the phone with the bank proved difficult, something Florin describes a "very hard and very stressful". In effect, the bank wanted Florin to speak entirely on his own, not taking into account the fact that his mother held the correct information on his behalf.
There can often be this balancing act, between recognised assistance and independence. According to Florin's Advocacy Officer in Cope, Daragh Forde, "I think sometimes people think that people with disabilities are eternal children and they treat them that way and don’t respect the fact that they can make a decision.
"Florin had told me about the bank thing and was very upset about it. That happens so much, people don’t respect somebody, [in this case] not respecting Florin's wishes of having his mother support him."
The bank account issue was resolved in time and Florin was able to switch his focus back to his first love - art. Some of his artworks can be viewed on his Instagram page, which already has 1,448 followers. His first solo exhibition opened at Cork City Library last December. Called ‘Floricoland’, it showcased his work in watercolour and ink and the opening took place on International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Florin and Daragh agree that the Decision Support Service would allow for greater influence and control over many facets of Florin's life - even the ability to make a 'bad' decision, or what Daragh more accurately describes as a decision "on a whim".
Florin also has other ideas, noting that he is currently doing a CE scheme which results in the suspension of his disability allowance, adding that it would be great if they were connected. Daragh says that Florin's father, who has passed away, used to work in Cork Prison, so there was a symbolism when the frames that were put together and then used to showcase Florin's artwork at exhibition came from the prison workshop.
According to Daragh: "I think the most important thing is valued social roles - how other people perceive other people with disabilities."
According to Florin: "Dreams do come true when you believe in it and work hard."
To learn a little bit more about Florin, please watch a short video at this link.