Your donation makes a difference to the lives of local people with learning disabilities.
How your donation helps
Your donation will enable people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire to access a diverse range of courses, activities and supported volunteering roles at Flower Pod and gain the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to feel happier, healthier and more connected to the local community.
On Wednesdays, Anita attends Reach Newark for a ‘Cook and Eat’ course. As well as learning vital food preparation skills, participants can enjoy a social meal together.
Fridays for Anita are all about the Newark Women’s Group which offers the chance to try different community facilities and practise skills with the support of volunteers in a non-judgemental environment.
Anita says she felt very shy when she first came to Reach, but that “volunteers helped me to get out of my shell. When I did a taster session the volunteers gave me a big welcome.”
Anita thinks that one of the best things about coming to Reach is having “great fun and laughter – people saying funny things”. She has also enjoyed going bowling and is looking forward to going with Reach friends to see the panto at Newark Palace Theatre.
Tom has been working with a volunteer Mike on a project to build a new wood store at Flower Pod. The idea was for Mike to be a mentor for Tom so that he could realise more of his potential, participate more fully at Flower Pod and increase his confidence.
This has proved to be hugely successful - Tom has completely taken ownership of this project from the planning stage to completion and he is clearly proud of his achievement. Furthermore, there has been a huge change in Tom’s attitude - he always arrives on time and stays until the end of the session, he is willing to try different activities and he is now peer mentoring other Flower Pod clients how to use the tools.
Tom says: 'working with Mike makes me happy …I love working with him, it makes me feel relaxed.' Tom has reduced his smoking whilst at Flower Pod and says: 'I have only had one cigarette today, being occupied, busy and enjoying what I am doing makes me forget smoking.'
Tom is now working on a plan to help build and design a new shed at home using the skills he has recently learnt on the wood shed project.
Along with cutting down on smoking and working outdoors, Tom’s increased confidence and independence is clearly beneficial for his mental health and self-esteem. But what is often overlooked is how important social connections are to our health and wellbeing. Tom’s story demonstrates how providing positive activities and opportunities to engage with others has manifold benefits to health.
The Institute of Health Equity’s recent Report ‘A Fair, Supportive Society’ documents how social factors such as loneliness, social isolation, discrimination all play a role in poor health. At Flower Pod and other Reach centres people can gain the skills they need to feel more confident in participating in community life, making new social connections and reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. This in turn benefits their health and wellbeing.
We took time to develop an understanding of Jade’s complex needs. By working closely with Jade, her family and colleagues within and outside of Reach we began to shape personalised support approaches to reduce anxiety. Gradually Jade began to progress towards increased participation in activities and, ultimately, greater independence.
In September 2018 Jade began to attend Flower Pod with a reduced level of support – a significant milestone for her.
A priority was to support Jade to communicate more effectively in ways that were comfortable to her. Clearly, pressuring Jade to speak would be detrimental to her self-esteem. We took our lead from Jade, responding to needs that she herself had identified – giving her ownership, control and ‘buy in’ thereby optimising success and boosting self-esteem.
Jade greatly enjoys using the Widget Symwriter software that we introduced to her. Her enjoyment of using the symbols in her communication has been fundamental to her progression. With the support of staff, Jade produced a communication book to remind her about the structure of her day
and provides visual prompts for routine tasks like putting lunch in the fridge. The book
supports Jade’s time-keeping and is also a discreet, effective way of promoting good hygiene practice.
Jade’s dad has purchased similar communication software to use at home, helping to embed consistent approaches. He reports that Jade is more willing to help with household tasks and take on responsibility for her own self-development.
Throughout, staff have supported Jade to feel safe and gradually grow more confident in participating in activities with her peers. We actively encourage Jade to express her opinions, thoughts and feelings as an adult. She always has the time she needs to process information and express herself independently. This reduces risk of misinterpretation and any ensuing frustration or distress.
Jade’s new sense of empowerment and autonomy has led to her being noticeably more interested in diverse activities. She has recently participated in a first-aid course, photography, sewing, felt-making, visited the outdoor gym, and enjoyed drumming with a group of corporate volunteers. A particular favourite for Jade is to walk Kipper the Flower Pod dog. She is much more willing to work as part of a group, share tools and resources and develop new friendships.
Jade has represented Flower Pod in the community, receiving a cheque from donors. Most recently, she has become the Wednesday Group’s representative at our Client Forum – a wonderful achievement!
We will continue to adapt to Jade’s needs as they change. Her story proves that getting support right and enabling people to feel safe creates a platform from which to explore new options and truly grow and develop.
Ways to donate
- Scroll down this page to donate securely online
- Send a cheque (payable to Reach Learning Disability) to Reach Learning Disability, Prebend Passage, Southwell, NG25 0LA.
- We can also take your donation by phone; call us on 01636 819066.
Thank you for supporting people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire