Three friends with support needs are the stars of a newly-released video by a celebrated independent documentary film-maker.
Mikey, Malachy and Rachel have been filmed by Swedish-based film-maker Matthew D’Arcy explaining — and showing — how they live independent lives in Monksland with the support of Roscommon charity StepIn Independent Living.
StepIn is an organisation that enables people with disabilities to live in the heart of the community. And the new video — being launched on Youtube on Thursday, August 13 and due for screening at conferences — shows exactly how that happens.
Matthew, who cut his teeth with the BBC and Channel 4 making shows such as The Great British Bake Off, follows the friends as they go about their lives: shopping in Supervalu, Monksland; chatting with the staff; sharing a cup of tea at home; doing the household chores; watching a video together.
The film is intended to show how it’s possible to live with real independence — more fulfilled, engaged lives as good neighbours in the community.
Matthew said: “We followed Mikey to the local supermarket where it was almost comical how many people he knew and who stopped to chat. When we eventually made it back home to Mikey’s, his housemate Malachy returned and found us filming, it was up to Mikey to explain what was going on and reassure Mal.
“You got a strong sense of how the members can help each other with life and the outside world, and that I suppose is the point of the network. Mikey and Mal sat down to watch a film together. By now I’d stopped seeing them as disabled and just saw them as a couple of mates sharing a house, as most of us have done at some point in our lives.”
Also shown in the short film are Aisling Hynes and Louise Coll, staff members with StepIn, who provide some practical support but stand back to allow Mikey, Rachel, Malachy and others to live their own lives.
“Once you take a step back you realise that people are very much well able to do things for themselves says,” Aisling, the Supported Living Coordinator for StepIn, the Roscommon-based charity.
Tea with Mikey is released on YouTube on Thursday, August 13 on the StepIn Independent Living channel. It may also be viewed at www.stepin.ie.
Film-maker Matthew D’Arcy is currently working on a documentary funded by the Swedish Film Institute that traces the life story of an artist in Sligo and Donegal after mysteriously disappearing from London. To watch Matthew’s previous film ’Storyboard P, a stranger in Sweden’ visit https://vimeo.com/ondemand/astrangerinsweden