Learning Disability Work Week

We are currently in Learning Disability Work Week, from 6-12 November. People with learning disabilities have a lot to contribute to society, including being engaged in voluntary work and paid employment.

Approximately 8 out of 10 people with a learning disability who are of working age have a mild or moderate learning disability, but less than 2 in 10 are in paid employment.

With a few reasonable adjustments however, we know that this statistic can increase. With the help, support and understanding of employers and colleagues, people with learning disabilities can be real assets to a workplace.

Currently, several of our clients are doing some fantastic work placements across Nottinghamshire. We have clients in placements at Nottingham Community Transport, the Pelham Kitchen cafe, Green’s Windmill and Arnold Clothes Bank.

One client, Clare, is doing a work placement at Sherwood Playgroup. Her boss there, Louise, says “She is an asset to the Nursery”.

We also have our crafts and upcycling shop, Spacecraft, where clients serve customers and are learning about stock maintenance and handling money.

Our Support Worker, Stella, explains why work placements are so important:

“Working gives our clients responsibility and independence. It teaches soft work skills in a real life situation.  For many of our clients, self-confidence quickly grows through starting a work placement.”

Changing people’s perceptions of what people with learning disabilities can do isn’t a quick process, but it is rewarding. Not everybody with a learning disability will find work suits them, but the current national statistics don’t reflect what great employees our clients can be!

For more Information about Learning Disability Work Week, which has been organised by the charity Mencap, please click on this link.

Jake

Last year Jake helped out making some cushions for pets that were later sold on at the  Mansfield site’s Christmas fayre and in the Spacecraft shop. From then on he became interested in textiles and sewing. He started developing his interest by making new clothes – he  made a simple cravat and then his own waistcoat. Now he has branched out into creating a fully lined coat from scratch in the sewing group, adapting a pattern to include a cape, based on one worn by the Third Doctor Who. This, as Support Worker Daisy notes, “shows Jake’s creativity and self expression”.

Jake is one of those people who learn as they’re going along – he likes the trial and error method of learning. He’s always helpful and always good company, whether it’s in the sewing group, cooking, or in other activities he always gives a hundred per cent.

Lucy, the Manager at Mansfield Woodhouse site, is impressed by Jake’s progress. “It’s lovely to see a young man who knows what he wants exactly and stays focused and works hard towards the end result…” says Lucy, “…He’s got a fantastic understanding of tailoring. He’s very meticulous.”

Jake currently attends Space one day a week alongside his studies at West Notts College,  and twice a week during the holiday breaks.

Sew far sew good

A group of our clients have been busy working on some fabulous handmade items at the Textile Workshop on Mansfield Road.

Over a six-week course they will learn skills such as sewing, knitting, pattern cutting, dress making, printing, art, felting and embroidery. Many of the items created during the course will, in time, go on sale at our shop, Spacecraft. An example of the work being done is a lovely bouquet of flowers made from pipe cleaners and buttons!

One of our support workers, Kelly, says “The course is a great way for clients to get creative and focus on creating some fabulous items. It’s also a perfect way to help the mindfulness of clients.”

We would especially like to thank Karen Taylor, the tutor taking the group every Thursday morning, for her time and obvious enthusiasm.

Space-at-Sea

While hurricanes and severe weather conditions are in place around the world, we were lucky to be met by sunny skies on our day out at the coast.

Before summer disappears completely, and winter takes hold, clients at our Mansfield Woodhouse site travelled to Sutton-on-Sea, to enjoy that feeling of sand between your toes, a game of football, collecting shells paddling in the muddy waters of the North sea, and the brave few, even went for a swim!

We had fish and chips for lunch with a Great British cuppa on deckchairs in front of the beach hut.

And to top it off, we played karaoke on the scenic journey home. Another grand day out!

Tour de Force

A few days ago our Mansfield Woodhouse clients experienced all the excitement of a major sporting event – the Tour of Britain.

Our Senior Support Worker at Mansfield Woodhouse, Lucy, takes up the story:

“We knew we were on the right track as we passed the decorated buildings, bright yellow bikes and even a hillside with a large chalk bike, enroute to our reserved seats out front of The Old Reindeer at Edingly, where a few clients were already well known to the landlord! We enjoyed a quiet drink, getting to know the locals, while the roads shut around us and we waited for the race to come to us.

“A noisy procession of police bikes and team cars warned us of the imminent arrival of the cyclists and we moved forward to the roadside to get a better view. We cheered them all, the small group that came through first, then bike after bike after bike, hot on the tail of each other, speeding past at around 45 miles an hour, until the last man passed through.”

“The rain had threatened and the windchill had a few of us running for cover inside. Mostly wrapped up warm, we braved lunch outside enjoying the party atmosphere and even indulging in the roadside food, while the roads reopened.”

Lucy and all the clients really enjoyed the atmosphere and the buzz of the Tour. As Lucy puts it “Definitely a day to remember.”.

A lot of fun at the allotment

Over the past few months our Mansfield Street based Support Worker, Lucy, has taken groups of clients to work on Space Inclusive’s very own allotment.

Lucy has had her own allotment on the site for six years. After looking for a site to use to launch her Grow, Cook and Eat scheme STAA (St Anns Allotment Association) very kindly offered us the shared use of the nursery. Additionally, they let Space Inclusive use the site rent free for twelve months.

Because of the previous user, the site was already set up with great facilities including a shared eating space and an incredible 50ft glass house!

The wonderful thing about allotments is the knowledge and understanding of self-sufficiency that a client can get out of working on it. To be able to grow your own fruit and vegetables helps teach clients about healthy eating and gives them an appreciation of nature and the world around them.

One client, Kate, has been helping out since May. “I’ve done planting, weeding, watering, chopping hedges, composting and growing tomatoes.” she says. “It’s nice and peaceful…it helps me relax”. So, has she got the gardening bug? Yes – “I’ll definitely carry on” she says.

Kate has already had a chance to try some of the produce from the garden, which is all organic. “I’ve had cucumbers, peppers and courgettes” she says.

Lucy is delighted with how the allotment has progressed, “It’s been a great opportunity to enable clients to experience nature through growing their own produce. We’ve gone from sowing to planting out and harvesting…”

“Having the opportunity to pick from fresh organic vegetables which are prepared and cooked on site for a shared meal has been fantastic” Lucy says.

The allotment is a relatively new innovation but it’s become an indispensable part of Space Inclusive.

Shan

Shan came to Space Inclusive two years ago. She has CHARGE Syndrome, which affects her ears and eyes. As a result of this Shan has unfortunately lost her sight. However, Shan was driven to succeed despite everything and this has been helped by a great sense of humour. “Since school,” Shan says, “my dream was to work in an office”.

With the help of Staff Inclusive staff, Shan has found a Work Placement – Volunteering at Nottingham Community Transport’s Sherwood depot one morning a week. Shan’s placement includes answering the telephone, contacting clients to let them know when their transport will be arriving, booking transport, typing up documents and photocopying.

Shan needs some support for these tasks but, with the reasonable adjustments in place, she is very independent. Nottingham Community Transport have been very supportive and will soon be introducing Dolphin Guide Software to help Shan even more.

Aside from her Voluntary Work Placement, some of Shan’s other achievements include using public transport with minimal support from staff and helping to create fabric products to be sold at our shop, “Spacecraft”.Shan is keen to make her own hot drinks using a liquid level indicator which gives her more independence and confidence.

“Space has allowed me to be myself, my own person and given me the confidence to express myself” Shan says. “With the help of the staff, I have been able to achieve my dreams”.

Mount Cook Adventure!

Our clients have just had a fabulous few days of activity at the Mount Cook Adventure Centre in Derbyshire.

Mount Cook is located in the Derbyshire Dales, not too far away from Matlock and a stone’s throw away from the Peak District.

It’s very new – having only opened in July 2016 – but already has a great reputation for providing access to the outdoors and outdoor activities for all!

Clients from all three of our sites, Pelham Road, Mansfield Woodhouse and Sherwood enjoyed their visit.

Activities included archery, bushcraft, caving, guided walking, team challenges and watersports.

Our Senior Support Worker, Brie, said “Everybody had a really enjoyable time. It was good in building independence and building friendships as well.”

In the evening there were more fun activities, from a campfire to a film night and a disco.

The trips were a fantastic opportunity for clients from different sites to meet and make friends with each other. It was also a chance for staff from different sites to meet and work together.

Our thanks go to all the staff at Mount Cook. If you would like to know more about them, here is a link to their website.

Lee

Before he started attending Space Inclusive in March 2015, Lee had been to a youth club a few times but he wasn’t otherwise particularly active.  However, from the very moment Lee came through the door of our Mansfield Street site, Workspace, we knew that he had lots of potential. Some of the early activities he remembers doing include map reading, cooking, working out at the gym and gardening.

Lee hadn’t really been to the gym much before he came to Space Inclusive but his self-motivation and commitment paid off, as he managed to lose 9 stone. Lee is very modest about this brilliant achievement but it’s clear through this that he has considerable willpower; in fact, because of his success, he had thought about helping to induct others.

One of our Support Workers, Stella, told Lee about a new Space Inclusive shop venture called ‘Spacecraft’. His willingness to help out and his commitment made him a perfect fit for the shop and he’s done several activities there including woodwork, sanding, manning the phone and working on the till.  This experience is providing him with fantastic transferable skills for the future. Lee’s ethos of customer service is very simple, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the customer.” he says.

Lee enjoys being at Spacecraft, however, with an A Level in Information Technology, he is also looking out for any opportunities to do computer-related work.

There are plenty of other achievements Lee can be proud of – he’s been on a framework bike maintenance course, completed a Ridewise Level 1 course in cycling proficiency and has put a bike back together by himself.

Stella is delighted with the progress Lee has made:

“Lee is an essential part of the Spacecraft team – he’s brilliant with customers and has a good sales pitch He gets on with morning tasks and needs no prompts. He keeps the staff smiling with his Austin Powers quotes!”

He was an ideal client to do a case study of in Stella’s point of view. “It is wonderful to reward Lee for his hard work”.