DSS Champion Lydia Fisher
08 Sep, 2023
Lydia Fisher, 24, has left-side cerebral palsy and is currently living in Waterford. But that is simply the latest landing spot in what has been an extraordinary journey.
"I was born in Africa, in Liberia," Lydia explains. "When I was eight, I was adopted. I went to America with my adopted family." This was in Florida, but just a year later, the family moved to Galway - "a beautiful city". It was full of surprises, she said. "Very, very, very cold - my first snow was in Galway."
In Galway she attended a school to learn sign language, and jokes: "I was the only person who could talk in the school, so it was good for me. It was good for me cos they couldn’t shut me up."
Lydia's family then moved to Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford, but she says there were some difficulties, and she was not happy. At the age of 10-and-a-half she was placed in foster care, remaining with her carers until she reached 18. She was told she would receive aftercare and was made a ward of court. She joined up with Cheshire Ireland at the age of 16, knowing she would be leaving the care system two years later.
"When the time went on, I got to do more things and I grew up from an 18-year-old girl to a wonderful 20-year-old woman," she says with a beaming smile.
This independent streak was tempered somewhat by the ward of court system. As she explains it: "Decisions are made for you. For example: going on holidays, you have to go to the solicitor and ask if you can go, you can’t pack your bag and go."
Lydia wants to travel, and she is currently going through the sometimes-painful process of learning to drive. She will return in September to college, where she is studying interior design. Becoming a designer, having children - these are all part of her plans and dreams.
Of the new Decision Support Service, Lydia says: "I think it will do a lot because people with a disability want to make a change, they want to feel like they are part of the world. The DSS is coming, and they will feel like they are more part of the world."
Eidhmer Heffernan, Community and Therapeutic Facilitator with Cheshire Ireland, says, "It has been a pleasure to see Lydia grow and develop over the years in Cheshire, she has such a fire in her belly."
Lydia says that she has constantly striven to prove to others and to herself that she can lead a fulfilling, independent life.
"Because people take decisions for them [up to now], I think this is what they want but really, you just agree with it to say yes. But now, with the DSS, people will be happy when they make the decision.
"We are all human beings, so we all make the wrong decisions and have the consequences.
"No one is perfect."
To learn a little bit more about Lydia, please watch a short video at this link.