18 Jan Strictly Billboard
Uniting brand ambassador Robin Bryan says she could hardly believe it when she first saw a Uniting poster with her photo on a bus. “I said, ‘Dad, isn’t that me?’”
She says she was excited to be asked to be in the ad campaign, but adds, “I didn’t realise how much I would be out there! I’d see myself every time I went past Petersham Station. My sister saw posters of me in Canberra.”
She laughs as she talks about how it feels to see her photo – often unexpectedly – in public places. Growing up with a disability she never thought of herself as a model.
Robin laughs even more as she unfurls a full size advertising poster of herself that Uniting has given her, and decides to give it to her dad as it’s too big display in her apartment. She’s enjoying the experience, but takes the sudden attention with a pinch of salt.
Robin says her dad was “amazed” when she became a brand ambassador. But according to Robin what he finds even more amazing than her becoming one of the faces of Uniting, is that she moved out of home in 2016 and now lives independently, with a little help from Uniting.
“When you have a daughter with a disability you don’t expect them to have all this independence,” she says.
She was nervous about moving out at first. But her family encouraged her, pointing out that her sister, who works for NSW Health, had her own place.
Before Robin moved out of home her parents let her have a trial run living alone the family home for a few days at a time, first for four days then for 10 days.
“Dad was a bit worried,” Robin says. “He thought, ‘Will she make it for 10 days?’ … And I did! So he knew I was ready to move out.”
During the 10 days home alone a support worker checked up on her regularly. Now living in her own apartment a Uniting support worker visits her on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as every second Sunday, helping with shopping and cooking, and making sure everything is okay.
Despite her initial qualms, Robin is very happy with the arrangement.
“Moving out has been really fun actually,” she says. “I can do whatever I want, and Dad can’t say ‘Don’t watch Dance Mums!’ I’ve loved every minute.”
Dance is one of Robin’s passions. As well as watching Dance Mums, her favourite film is Strictly Ballroom. Dance was also a major theme in a film Robin worked on with Bus Stop Films, a non-profit organisation that works with people with intellectual disabilities.
With Bus Stop Films, Robin was one of the directors for Heartbreak and Beauty. “It’s about people with disabilities who find it hard to communicate, so they communicate and show emotions through dance,” she explains. “It’s about sisterhood, relationships and growing up into beautiful young men and women.”
Her dad plans to put up the poster of her in his garage – the only place big enough to house it.
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