“Ol’ man river, dat ol’ man river,
He must know sumpin’, but don’t say nothin’
He just keeps rollin’,
He keeps on rollin’ along.”
“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.”
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.”
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”
“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
“It always seems impossible until it's done.”
“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
Bulend’s journey over the last few years started with taking up the recommendation of a neighbour and signing up for English literacy and numeracy classes with Crisis Skylight in 2011 to get out of the house and on with his life. He made impressive progress up two levels and this gave him the base he needed to go on to participate in several other courses and types of voluntary activity, as well as cut his medication by half.
Crisis helped Bulend discover he has severe dyslexia and he has since become very involved in finding ways to work with his dyslexia. Bulend and his tutor at Crisis Skylight, Annette, tell the story in the next two pages. He now volunteers in classes at Crisis Skylight, and at Spitalfields City Farm.
Bulend also produced two short video clips and audio pieces for us, with accompanying transcripts.
“Having to leave school and work at a young age was not an option. It meant that I missed out on my education. After working for several years I decided to return back to education and failing on two occasions I thought there was no way forward. I actually believed that I would never be able to get back into education. Without education it’s hard to get a job which also made me believe that I would never get a job and that made me believe that I would be spending the rest of my life at home with no hope of moving my life forward. Then being diagnosed with schizophrenia in my early 20’s life has been a roller-
My learning came about when I found out that Crisis were running English and maths courses. For a while I wanted to get back into college to do a course in order to get me out of the house and socialising with people but my problem was that college would be too busy, having too many people as I don’t like being in crowded places and that really puts me off. My neighbour, who has been a member of Crisis for several years now, highly recommended Crisis and the support they give. My details were passed on to Crisis then I got a call asking me to come in for a chat.
Crisis gave me two important things. The first was routine. Crisis gave me a reason to get up in the mornings and make myself presentable. That’s what I done, I stuck to a fixed routine and worked on it and kept building myself up. The second was time. Crisis gave me their time to help me to deal with my issues and move my life forward. One thing led to another, course after course, which then led to volunteering once a week in the Skylight Learning Zone.
Before coming to Crisis I was under support and therapy for 3 years. It did help me in certain aspects of life but it wasn’t the right kind of support and therapy and the reason why I know that is because I was still at home doing nothing after the three years. That’s why I know how much my life changed in one year. Going to Crisis has totally changed the way I think from being a negative person to someone who has reason to move their life forward.
Going to Crisis and interacting with different activities has taught me how to express myself in several different ways. I do look at things differently. I recently had my medication reduce by half after taking them daily for five years and it had made me realise that nothing had changed, my illness was still there. What did change was the way I handle situations. I’m actually surprised myself at how I handle things and how much my life has transformed in one year but learning itself is a life time achievement and I’m learning and transforming my life every day.
The more time I spent at home the harder it became for me to get back into life. When you spend a lot of time living between four walls it really narrows your thinking and thoughts. I actually believed that I couldn’t do all the things that I was good at doing before like going bike riding or using a computer. It was like going back to basics and re-
Shortly after winning the Adult Learners Week Award I had a full dyslexia test at Crisis Skylight. I received the results in June 2014 saying that I’m severely dyslexic. It’s hard to take something like that in at the age of 39 but it slowly filled the gaps of the puzzles in my brain and a lot of unanswered questions were self-
I got involved in volunteering as a teacher assistant at Crisis Skylight and went to City Lit in March 2014 to do a twelve week course in Education and Training. I explained my situation and they said they would give me weekly support for my dyslexia. On week two I asked about this support and unfortunately I was told that there are fifty people ahead of me on the waiting list. On week three I left the course. It was a total kickback. Did it get me down? NO, it gave me even more determination for push forward.
Since then I have investigated different learning methods. I have assisted an author and publisher to design a book that will be dyslexia friendly. I have assisted in a class for dyslexia and computers combined. It’s amazing what a bit of colour and a change of font can do!
In December 2014, I got involved in a three month project with Look Ahead Care and Support – Toward Recovery in Mental Health. The project was funded by the National Health Services and it was to design ten classes to present to services users surrounding Mental Health. The presenters were a team of expert by experience and expert by profession. The classes went very well and we got very good feedback. When you get positive feedback that says, “It has been a real pleasure working with you and getting to know you. I really admire and respect your beliefs, opinions and input and your support has been invaluable to us”, it gives you a good feeling and it's comments like that that make me feel valued and keep me going.
It’s a case of fight or flight. How long can you run for? I choose to fight and to keep fighting until I am able to get to where I want to be. I may not be educated because of my dyslexia but I’m an Expert by Experience in several areas and that’s why I have decided to redo the Education and Training course this April and I also will be training to be a Mental Health Peer in May because I do have a lot to offer.”
Annette Less, Bulend’s tutor from Crisis, said "Remarkable, determined, hardworking and brave, are all words that come to mind when describing Bulend Murad. Bulend has been attending Crisis Skylight since October 2011 and in this short time, has completely turned his life around.
Before attending classes at Crisis, Bulend’s life was very different. Having suffered with issues affecting his mental health, Bulend was working very hard in therapy over the past three years. However, Bulend faced many challenges day to day and had low confidence. He found the simple things, like leaving home and going shopping,difficult as he found being in groups a challenge. He had a lack of energy, mainly due to his medication, and often slept for twelve hours a day.
Bulend was referred to Crisis through a friend he met in supported housing. He was quite shy and nervous about attending. However, he signed up to study literacy and numeracy, which were currently at a high E3 level. Despite being anxious in a class setting, Bulend’s attendance was fantastic – he worked hard and often asked for extra work to do outside of class. He worked extremely well in small groups and had a patient, caring and considerate working relationship with his peers. He often spent time patiently helping others in the group.
Bulend’s literacy and numeracy improved dramatically and he soon achieved level 1 in both subjects. He then continued to achieve an amazing level 2. In an assignment, Bulend commented that: “I think that writing for me has been the best therapy I have ever had or done. But if I could talk the way I write then I would be really happy. There is only one way for me and that is forward.”
Bulend’s enthusiasm for learning continued over 2012. He enrolled and had outstanding attendance on a range of courses at Crisis including: Museum of Me (an art and personal development course); Words for Work (learning the language used in employment) and ECDL. Through these courses Bulend has also achieved qualifications in Life and Living Skills and Employability Skills.
Despite finding some aspects of reading a challenge, Bulend has also attended the Crisis book club, where he has engaged in group discussion within a large reading group of 17-
During a session in a literacy class, a task was set to research into a volunteering position and write a mock application. After discussing Bulend’s love of animals, we talked about the possibility of Bulend volunteering at Spitalfields Farm. He researched the position and took time writing an application. He was shortly asked for an interview. Bulend had only been for one interview previously, but did extremely well and got an ongoing position volunteering at the farm. He now volunteers there two days a week and has been described by the farm as a “real asset”.
Simultaneously, Bulend had been part of a cycling group at Homerton Hospital. His enthusiasm for cycling led him to be asked to lead the hospital’s cycling group. When Bulend took over the hospital bike riding group, he got a note from the girl who he was taking over from saying:“The world is your oyster!” Bulend’s determination and motivation to learn, volunteer and engage with life has meant that he is building himself a really positive future. The farm has also recently approached him to discuss the possibility of him also running a cycling group for them.
Furthermore, Bulend gave his time and energy last Christmas to volunteer with Crisis at Christmas. Despite disliking crowds, Bulend volunteered in the kitchen and enjoyed the sense of ‘giving back’. He is going to volunteer again this Christmas as a Kitchen Porter.
After succeeding in completing so many courses at Crisis, Bulend and I discussed the possibility of him volunteering in an Entry Level Literacy course at Crisis. He filled in an application, did exceptionally well in the interview and now volunteers on a weekly basis as a Learning Support Volunteer. Bulend is fantastic working in the classroom. He has a great rapport with the learners and has a calm and patient manner. He has been excellent at supporting learners with spelling and reading.
Bulend modestly stated that “I don’t know why but, in the past year everything has gone right for me.” The truth is that he has shown strength and utter determination overcome personal challenges and has truly turned his life around. He is now working hard to decrease his medication. He has grown in confidence and developed his own strategies to overcome fears and anxieties, so much so, that he is now helping so many others through his volunteering. He advises people to “not think so much but.. just do” and is a true inspiration."
Video of Dyslexia Recording
"When I first started doing research into dyslexia I started looking online at different techniques but because reading is not my strong point I didn’t have much luck. I then tried looking at books with audio and it did help to a certain point but it just wasn’t for me.
I then started using coloured pens to help with writing. One problem I always had was when I wrote everything in black ink and went back to look at it a day or two later, I was having difficulty in trying to work out what I had written. With the pens, I could use a different colour for each sentence or when it came to writing stories it was one colour for each character.
Then, one day I came across this website called Cross Bow Education www.crossboweducation.com. So I had a catalogue sent to me. Had a look through the catalogue and found some interesting things. I ordered a set of different coloured Duo Reading Rulers. The ruler has a 1cm narrow tinted strip and a 3cm wide tinted strip. I always had a problem when trying to read books. Every time I hear a noise my mind would get distracted and follow the noise and when I return to the book to carry on reading I have a hard time finding my place. All the words look the same and it turns into a puzzle. Then when it happens consistently it’s annoying and it puts you off reading. After going through all the colours I found that only one colour worked well for me and that is Apple Green. I also ordered tinted A4 writing pads. There are eight different colours so I went for green and blue to try the two different types. A combination of the coloured pens, reading ruler and tinted A4 writing pads work quite well for me.
There was this one time when I was assisting in a therapy group and I was asked to set up a table for dyslexia so I did. I was getting interest from people who were having problems reading presuming they were dyslexic and there was also interest from people who had no knowledge on dyslexia and found it fascinating.
I was doing a training course and was asked to put together a short presentation so I did a presentation on dyslexia awareness. The feedback was amazing.
I was once in a dyslexia class and the tutor was talking about this website called tint my screen www.tintmyscreen.com. You pay £5 to take a visual test and according to your results it gives you colour codes for your chosen coloured screen tint, font type and font size. So you download a software programme onto your computer. You then type the colour codes you were given or enter your email address and it gives you a tinted screen for any software program you use on any computer.
At the end of the day everybody is unique so it’s what works for every individual.
Thank you for listening!"
Video of Easily Available Dyslexia Resources
"Some useful sites to look at are:
Door Way Online
This dyslexia friendly and free software works with plenty of colour to assist you in finding your way around the keyboard. There’s a suit of fun activates including:
Tipp 10 is another free touch typing program that will also teach you ten finger touch typing. It has a few interesting word games to enhance your learning and make it fun.
Crossbow Education have been award winners from 2012 – 2014 for their resources and customer service. Crossbow Education is an online shop that offers dyslexia teaching resources and visual stress support. It has very helpful resources at the reasonable price.
Tint My Screen
Definately worth adding some colour to your life. It doesn’t solve the problem but it does make it more bearable. Whether you’re using reading rulers, screen overlay or tinted software, they all take a little while to get use to.
Information on Dyslexia
There are also free information based web sites like Dore and Dyslexia Action that offer information for both adults and children to help with explaining what Dyslexia is, coping strategies and all sorts of training courses. Most of the time people don’t know this information is out there until it is pointed out to them."
Audio of My Life Story
"Going back to my school days I was not the brightest pupil. I have to be honest; in the classroom I was useless. I hated English. I hated maths and I couldn’t draw! But, outside the classroom it was a totally different story. I had a talent with sport. I seemed to do really well at it.
As I was growing up I got into reading short books and I quite enjoyed them. As I got older I got into more teenager books and again quite enjoyed reading in my own space. When I got to secondary school that’s when all the problems started. I just couldn’t adapt to the books the class was reading and it was a real struggle. I wasn’t at school for very long. I kept missing classes for a while then gave up education and got a job in a garage doing all sorts of work except reading and writing. So that went on from 13 years of age till I was 17. I decided to go back to college. I went and did a computer course because I did have good knowledge on computers and it would be a good starting point for me to get back into education.
When I was doing the course I was doing well. Not just well, really well. So that went on from 1993 – 1995. Also, during that time I was confronted with a big problem I was struggling with English and maths. There was this one time where the tutor asked us to do a piece of writing, just a paragraph, on a piece of hardware. I didn’t have a clue what to do so I found a computer book, found a paragraph on a piece of hardware and memorised it. When it came to the exam I wrote what was in the book and failed. I ended up leaving in 1995.
The problem was getting to me so much that I had to get help. I went for counselling for several years but nothing. Tried hypnosis but had no luck. I couldn’t work out why I could be top at so many things but when it came to reading etc I was struggling. But at the same time I did focus on my strong points which were doing sport. Then when I went to the GP and asked for help, I was sent to see a specialist. The specialist asked me three questions and put me under mental health as schizophrenic. So before I was given that label by a specialist I was a trained martial artist, trained to end a fight within three seconds. I had a full car licence and a full bike licence and I had a girlfriend and all that was taken away from me with three questions. Shortly after I went to see a psychiatrist and he said to me, “You're schizophrenic but we don’t know what it is. It’s a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. You will be on medication for the rest of your life and you’re not allowed to drive or ride”. Between then and now I haven’t been told not much more about schizophrenia.
Shortly after that, I was moved out from the family home because of problems with being bullied and spent the next three years in hostels. I moved to the flat I’m still in today in 2000, which is in supported housing with support workers. I had a lot of challenges with this, was very unhappy and not making progress, and there were many changes of support workers. I stayed indoors at home for years, making my appointments with psychiatrists and psychologists. I knew I would like to get a volunteering job on a farm. It’s something I have wanted to do for a long time. It’s something that doesn’t really involve reading or writing so as long as I can count how many chickens there are I should be good at the job. With a support worker, we made a list of five farms to visit, one of them was Spitalfield City Farm but at the time we didn't make any progress on this.
I went to volunteer in a cycling group at Homerton Hospital because I wanted to see the other side of the NHS. There are two sides to everything and it was no different to being a patient but I did enjoy being involved with the cycling group. The NHS stopped funding the cycling group after one year and it came to an end.
When I got a phone call to come to Crisis I stopped all support and it’s been like that since. I mentioned to my neighbour once that I wanted to do English and maths courses but I didn’t want to go to college. Because he’s a Crisis member, he passed my details on to Annette at Crisis and she called me to come in for a chat. Annette is the first person to give me real individualised help and I am very grateful to her. She taught me how to use grammar and punctuation and she taught me how to write. It was the same with maths. If I had a problem I couldn’t work out then Annette would sit with me and break the problem in a way that it was understandable. What Annette done for me in a short space of time no doctor, no therapist and no support worker could do for me in 20 years. Annette even helped me fill out an application form to volunteer on the farm.
Then, I found out I was dyslexic through Crisis. Not long after I stopped my regular psychiatrist appointments too. You would think that finding out you're dyslexic (having some answers and explanations!) would make you happy but if I'm very honest it makes me angry knowing that I had to suffer for twenty years for no reason. Even if I put myself to one side, I’m concerned about all the vulnerable people out there who have problems that they don't understand and don't know how deal with, can’t defend themselves and have to go through unnecessary suffering.
Since finding out I’m dyslexic a lot has changed for me. I learnt that if you need to get from A to B it can be straight forward for some people but for some people it can be difficult but it doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. With a few changes here and there to make things a bit easier you can get to your destination. So basically, if you take that problem and you break it down. Then you break it down again and again and again until you can make sense of it so you can still achieve your goals. When I’m writing it’s not straight forward. It’s all in bits and pieces. Bits of the middle, bits of the end, bits of the beginning, then it is all joined up to create something meaningful. Look at a computer as being a tool with a million different tools on it. You pick which tools you want to learn and use. That’s why it really helps to have computer knowledge because it gives me a way to understand my dyslexia.
My experience in life has taught me that anger can be turned from negative to positive and can be used to your advantage. It does feel like I’m doing all this for the wrong reasons but to make those wrong reasons right. But now that I have the answer to my problem there is no stopping me. Although I do have a hard time reading because of my dyslexia, if I have to go to college in order to get a piece of paper so I can get my point across then I will."