We are a non for profit CIC Limited company focused on promoting independence and work ready skills initially through our website, irrespective of disability or learning difficulty or SEND needs and wanting to record your lived experience and strategies. If you scroll down the home page you will see picture icons and categories for easy navigation. These themes lead to different groups of pages of information on each topic, these are: Money Management Benefits and Housing, Education, Health, Interests, Life in General, Workplace all in relation to disability. There is also a search option so for example if you put in Moderate Learning Disability you will get relevant pages. Information includes easy read materials for life topics to other materials helping those going to university and much more connected to disability.We want to be able to develop our own original webinars and other completely original materials on adult life topics, be more interactive as a learning resource and create a media wall of your experiences of disability and adult life we would like you to contribute to this. Can you show how to make a meal or even a cup of tea to others? Other life skills you could share? We also want to offer a jobs and volunteering board and explore other activities you feel there is a need for. What would help you? Individuals can use the site to improve their independence while families and support workers can find useful resources to encourage greater independence and easy read information to share.
The idea explained
Following on from a difficult period that had actually helped result in this idea when least expected...!! This project started from a concept about the importance of independence and disability... after listening to Ted Talks and disability blogs thoughts started coming together... After some self reflection and time the decision to help others know their options for different areas of adult life and put a site together with this information developed also involving revisiting disability research.
We are focused on providing information, for all types of disability focused on developing your abilities and your control over adult life. We have lived experience of disability and knowledge of working in the industry as well. So the website is informed with the latest information like from respected government, charities or the NHS sites but also from personal reflective experiences. Videos have also been selected that help understanding and bring in other interesting experiences these range from You Tube videos from charities, disability blogs to the NHS to Ted talks and Ted ED. We want Subject to funding to add activities, questions and interaction making the site a life long learning resource. We want to explore ways to develop your independence and awareness of options and provide opportunities.
Some people can find having a disability isolating. They may not know anyone else with a disability, they may have questions but not know who to ask making growing up with a disability sometimes a challenge. If your born with a disability then disability is what you know but often you have to learn abilities in a different way to others or ask for support, this may be adult support. So it becomes harder to learn some abilities, harder to make connections and harder to make friends. You can end up with fewer connections and having to work harder to maintain these connections.To gain confidence you must develop independence and to do this it helps to have a passion to help yourself find meaning and to know who to or where to direct questions and find trusted information. You need to develop social skills and be open to opportunities. If you become disabled you have to adjust, adapt and relearn finding new ways and this can impact relationships. Finding age appropriate support and activities that understand your needs can be challenging.
It is important to build a positive self image and challenge any negative preconceived ideas or negative self talk. This site intends to help by signposting and providing a gateway to opportunities from disability and work to leisure and disability social and sports clubs. Of course you should still participate in all leisure and life options not just those for disabilities but this site is about giving you options and also showing how you can participate in activities you may not of thought possible. In time we hope to offer a online forum to make the site more interactive and have read aloud software and activity task cards/quizzes.We hope to directly develop your skills for adult life and develop activities and options for adult life once you leave education. Adult life skills like budgeting for food, managing your health, understanding your rights and options are typically not taught at depth but learnt over time. If you have SEND and you need adaptions or easy read materials learning and applying these skills and understanding these topics can be difficult.The site may also be useful to community organisations and education providers teaching employability or life skills.
By writing down and sharing knowledge and experiences of disability through creating this site this has helped confidence and connections of those involved as well as provided opportunities to get involved in activities and a means to voice lived experience. It is hoped moving forward getting others also involved in the website will grow not just their knowledge but their connections and confidence. You can learn a lot from others and by listening to talks, podcasts and blogs that may give you your own ideas and projects.We are interested to share your experiences of disability, being independent, successes and strategies that may help others and we want to record these in a way that works for you, such as personal written accounts, videos, art work, poems or whatever works for you. We want you to contribute to our site long term.
The topic ideas on the site also have come from the topics others with learning difficulties and disabilities have been asking about to help their adult life. The sheer number of different sites to signpost to for different adult life topics made making this site important for the details to be in one place. There is lots of employment support like Access to Work, from the government to charity schemes and other options yet often people remain unaware, end up NEET just sitting at home prone to more physical and mental health issues or in social care not paid work. Working is important for self esteem and being able to contribute. The Disability Rights Commission in 2019 reported only 51.7 percent of 16-64 with a disability were in work but by contrast 81.1 percent of 16-64 without a disability were working so a large gap of opportunities with work exist. Further 43.8 percent were economically inactive meaning they were not intending to work. More people need to see the available support and options. Shockingly Mencap reported that only 6 percent of adults 16-64 with a learning disability are in paid work (based on 2014-2015 figures. It is also important that the work is suitable for the individual. There is much support for those who need it, but people and organisations who support need to know it is there and to access it.We want in time subject to funding to help with employability, enterprise skills and finding paid employment via a jobs/volunteering board and activities. We want to offer mentoring.
Since 2014 there has been lots of changes to post 16 SEND education due to the Children and Families Act (2014) and the resulting SEND reforms with the introduction of EHCPs going up to the age of 25 for those who stay in further education and training, placing additional demands on education at a challenging time. This is due to a realisation often those with SEND need longer to truly develop and learn. The focus is placed on set adult outcomes namely ‘
Moving into paid employment or higher education
Having friends and relationships and participating in the community
Being as healthy as possible
This means colleges and other education providers have to develop more options and be mindful of skills for adult life. Our website helps this by focusing on said skills in relation to disability as a learning resource that itself aims to promote self directed learning. There have also been wider changes such as to benefit with the introduction of PIP and also changes to the Care Act (2014) with a focus on choice, control and personalised provision with more people taking direct payments and managing their options and choices themselves. With all the changes and with EHCPs for example including education, health and social care objectives the need to work together and thus the benefit of having disability information in one place has never been greater.
Some people do not have a strong support network and finding information and being in control can be difficult. Despite the best of intentions it can be hard to develop all the needed life skills through a EHCP and then there are the issues of how to access support once your too old for an EHCP. When you work with SEND you learn of individuals strengths, their areas for development. You know areas they may have ongoing challenges that need ongoing work and witness successes but what happens when an EHCP comes to an end? You do not want the loss of support to set someone back and leaving education and starting work or being independent and looking at options like to live independently brings new challenges and opportunities. This site is about providing tools to help and maintain progress as well as assist transitions.
Other people may find they have lots of support but are possible not doing enough for themselves being too dependent and not taking control.Others may not like the idea they have a Disability (it is not the best of terms because the word focuses on limitations). This site is focused on the support you can CHOOSE to try while also highlighting some of the skills conditions may have given you. We as an organisation want to learn about opportunities, visit opportunities and promote opportunities via our work and website to provide extra disability support like mentoring. We have put our own lived experiences like of Cerebral Palsy and would like to collect other disability experiences.
About the Director
The website and CIC is run by Karen Yates who has a background in disability research specifically Disability Leisure, Sport and Tourism studies. She has worked as a disability researcher and as a visiting lecturer in disability research and has had some of this work published: http://www.inderscience.com/offer.php?id=15525 . Her work with the students union when at Bucks New University was about helping university students succeed academically, overcome disability and improve employ-ability. She has a MSc focused on disability research and worked with Bucks New University as a Disabilities Officer and researcher. She has worked as a Specialist Mentor for Autism and Mental Health with university students. She has run her own company Pure Grace Gifts and as part of this run Pure Grace Events http://www.puregracegifts.co.uk/ where she organised large 40-50 stall family craft and fun days fundraising for the PACE Centre and Happy Feet for Ethan at Bisham Abbey and once at Missenden Abbey. These events were successful fundraisers for the charity, promoted local business, local craft, involved the community and the mayor and had many visitors. This is experience she would like to use and develop into employability and enterprise workshops and more.
She has also worked for the last 5 years in post 16 SEN education including working with students with Moderate Learning Disabilities.She has worked a lot on Entry level and level 1 courses. She has made full use of technology learning about suitable I pad apps. She has qualifications in SEND. She has Cerebral Palsy herself and is Dyslexic so lots of personal and professional experience of work and life with a disability.
Her disability means she had an Educational statement between the ages of 5-19 the same as a now EHCP. At 19 she went to university, declared her disability applied for Disabled Students Allowance had various part time work roles for the SU and Disability Services. She achieved an HND, BA (Hons) 2.1 and a MSc Distinction/1st. She also studied and successfully achieved a BPS Graduate Diploma in Psychology.
Due to her disability and both excellent family and medical support she has had access to physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, Baclofen and other medication for Cerebral Palsy, Botox as a muscle relaxant, used FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation devises) on her legs for foot drop, used FES cycling bikes, gym membership, had stretching tendon operations on her legs, used orthotic clothing, splints and other foot orthotics, as well as had loads of really invaluable guidance.She has also been involved in activities like the RDA riding and carriage driving as well as other horse riding.
She has applied for Personal Independence Payments and helped others successfully apply including success in person for someone else at a tribunal.She has used Access to Work over the years in job roles.
Growing up she had difficulties with self esteem, confidence, speaking up, issues being comfortable with her disability, she faced some barriers and problems finding strategies, she faced some set backs, like everyone made some mistakes but has learnt effective approaches to overcoming her difficulties, some of these difficulties and set backs also played a part in thinking up and designing this site. She found growing up people however well meant at times underestimated her and made incorrect assumptions to often on topics like future careers, she had to adjust to changes in mobility and problems such as learning to drive due to eyesight issues. She did not know of options and at times felt left behind. She did not know of help like Access to Work and felt frustrated as she faced changes in her mobility meaning tasks like using using public transport with friends became very very hard, leading to some significant accidents. She now wants people to always know their options having not always had herself the correct information. She now works with others with SEND helping them with education, employ-ability and life skills who have themselves helped her develop confidence. She struggled when younger finding paid work so spent a long time in education.
It is also about being open to suggestions sometimes it is the smallest piece of advice that could have easily not been said or listened too, or the disability product you could easily of not been open to try that has the biggest of impacts but first you must know what support is available and be open to other people’s suggestions, while still making up your own mind! We now need your help, do you know of any links, resources, do you have ideas?