My name is Sara. I’m the leader of the Sycamore, one of the houses in L’Arche London, where we support four ladies with a learning disability.

As a house leader, I have responsibility for bringing the team together, making sure people are well supported, inducting assistants and ensuring they are trained, dealing with families and doctors, as well as helping prepare the rota for the house.

I love the people and creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and comfortable. As a house leader you have the tools to make that happen.

When I arrived at L'Arche, I felt so welcome for who I am. It was amazing – just to be yourself and be appreciated. What could be better than that! That’s what L’Arche is all about.

What brings me joy and life is seeing people happy and fulfilled. A smile from one of the ladies can be enough to make me forget all the stress we’re under. It is also great to meet up with people in other parts of the Community, as you feel part of something bigger, working together for the same aim.

But things can be messy and stressful too. It’s hard when someone with a disability is unwell, and we can’t work out what the issue is and what they need. Or when an assistant comes to me and says they’ve made a mistake because things have got too much.

We are short-staffed at the moment and missing one of our three live-in assistants. When there’s not enough assistants, we can’t offer the best support. 

I don't enjoy telling someone they can't go out and do their favourite activities because there's no one on hand to take them. And it's hard when there's not a trained assistant around to offer extra support when one of the ladies is going through a challenging time.  

We are a diverse team. And difficult times have actually brought us closer together, because we’ve needed each other in order to get by.

But my big fear is that we don’t have enough assistants to provide more than basic care to the ladies. in that case, we have no choice but to spend afternoons together in front of the TV. There’s more to life than that.

Sara is just one of our Leaders in L’Arche, who help us build Communities where people with and without learning disabilities shine and their gifts are held up and celebrated.

Make a donation to L’Arche, and help us spread the light of love in our world this Advent.