Meet Reuben: musician, poet and student aiming high
Meet Reuben, former HSDC Alton and Treloar College student, now proud University of Creative Arts student. Reuben came to Treloar’s in 2020 and even though he graduated from college in the summer, he is still part of Treloar’s community as he continues to reside in Campbell Court – an independent living community of seven self-contained ground floor flats located adjacent to Treloar’s Campus.
Last year Reuben made a short film about his life and how one conversation led him to Treloar’s and a future full of possibilities. Read his story and watch his film on our YouTube channel.
The Story of Reuben
I’m 19 years old and have cerebral palsy in both legs. My Mum raised me as a single parent and taught me to enjoy life, taught me to just be happy and made sure I got out and saw the world.
I didn’t realise until much later in life, how much my Mum was putting up with and how much sheer politics is involved in having a disability… having to deal with local authorities, having to deal with the government etc. My Mum dealt with all of this whilst managing to raise me. I salute my mum for that. She looked after me.
In 2016, my Mum had an accident which basically did her leg in whilst she was going through some other health problems. She kind of got over it, but it wasn’t easy. Then, in 2017/2018, whilst I was studying for my GCSEs, my mum died. This was a lot, this was a really hard one, and it taught me a lot. There was no one else. My mum stood up for me when no one else could.
Some people get mopey, some people lose it and some people, (this is what I did), get so angry that they can’t breathe, they can’t think, they can’t eat. It’s just anger and rage from the pain of it all.
How did I get rid of all that anger, pain and rage you might ask? When I was 14, I’d been picking up music and all of these different sounds, motifs and emotions. I used to find people that I knew at school to do rap battles with, and this really helped me get the anger out. I then started getting instrumentals up on my phone and rapping, whilst figuring out schemes and what I wanted to say with all of these emotions I was feeling. I was in such a dark place, and it was just merciful to sit down and just write.
Thank you, Treloar’s, for allowing me to excel and do what I thought I couldn’t.
At this point in my life, I was kind of lost. I was wrapping and learning freestyles, but I wasn’t being taught anything or evolving. I went to my local authority, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for college, as I couldn’t go back to my school again. They said, there’s this place in Hampshire that’s super inclusive, it’s called Treloar’s.
Instead of it being my actual disability itself that’s been the difficult part, it’s been the social interactions. Some people have perceived me, because of my disability, that I’m dumber or have mental problems. Just because I’m in a chair, it does not affect my mind.
Treloar’s made everything more even and allowed me to grow and excel more socially. After starting at Treloar’s, I moved into Campbell Court. Having my own place makes people recognise that I’m independent. Which I really appreciate. I do a lot of things that I want to do, like cooking and cleaning and just being an adult. I started making connections and rapping more and really figuring everything out. I had some head space away from everything.
I started at HSDC Alton College and made some friends and joined the music course. It was a rock and pop course and although I wanted to do hip hop, I still did the course because I love music. I found a pre-existing band, a guitarist, drummer and singer and worked with them, creating a combination of rock and rap at the same time.
Reuben has just been excited from day one and it’s really opened the minds and ears of other students. He spends almost every day in the music department either writing or composing or recording and working on beats. He’s given more life to the department definitely.
Being around people got rid of my low mood and I wasn’t alone. I didn’t feel alone. That was powerful in its own right. Treloar’s gives me that safety net that, when I’m not up to it, I can get on a bus to go to college without having to worry about my finances. I have that community and socialisation.
I wrote this thing called ‘The Story of Rue’. Someone at my local authority caught wind that I write poems. I got contacted by the Urban Intellectual publisher, and worked with him over six months and got my poems published. I’m a published author!
Reuben is definitely a lot more confident since starting at Treloar’s and Alton College. Reuben would like to live as independently as possible when he leaves Treloar’s. Treloar’s gives him that opportunity. I’m very proud of him.
Sam Heal, Alton College
To be independent, a lot of people don’t get that need. Learn how to cross a road, learn how to go places by yourself, you’ll pick it up. When, how, where? Treloar’s let me do that. Be free and be a happy soul. Be able to be a teenager. Just because I’m disabled, I shouldn’t have to be in a box. Being at Treloar’s has helped me mentally, because I’m able to be me. That is just so freeing.