Bringing community enterprise to younger people with a learning disability
Here at Community Catalysts, we have always provided technical advice and guidance for enterprise leaders around regulation and legislation, but the focus has always been on supporting older people and adults with a disability due to our background and deep knowledge in that area. We were aware that many of those amazing community enterprises who already support adults with a learning disability would be great for younger people too. Extending their offers would also help to prevent that “cliff-edge” at the age of 18 when people move from children’s to adult services.
Always keen to develop our learning, we engaged the services of a consultant to help us understand the detail about the additional regulatory frameworks that enterprise leaders would need to consider when supporting young people with a learning disability – most relevant being CQC/OFSTED and DFE.
We developed specialist training and provided accompanying in-depth guidance for our Catalysts to share with the enterprise leaders that they work alongside. The guidance ensures clear, accurate advice is provided to enterprise leaders so they can confidently support young people who come within the Preparation For Adults (PFA) age group of 14 plus.
How it works in practice – Birmingham
We initially brought our new ways of working to Birmingham as we had been running a programme there since 2018 to create community-based options for adults with a learning disability. We had also started linking in with the local PFA team who were looking to extend those options to younger people.
Before I started I was very shy, but look at me now! I go on it every week to show my work to everyone
Over an 8 week period, 9 community enterprises offered varied activities aimed at supporting young people to learn new skills and support good physical and mental health….all mixed in with a heap of fun and the opportunity to meet new people. 45 young people participated each week.
I’ve never seen him so engaged – We have really struggled to fill the days and weeks since the lockdowns started and it has caused a lot of pressure on the family. Seeing a programme of varied activities was such a relief!
One of the aims of the project was to encourage more young people to take a Direct Payment (DP) and engage their own support in the community as an addition to using the more traditional day services. One young woman, Megan signed up for the nutrition and wellbeing taster sessions run by Shamala of Impact4Life. Megan now plans to use her DP to continue these sessions on a 1-1 basis which will include fitness routines suited to her own physical difficulties. In addition, Megan and her family are joining Shamala’s weekly group wellbeing walk ‘n’ talks.
The Jump Start programme of online activities has provided a safe, fun, interactive way for young people to engage during the pandemic. It has been great to see the collaboration between the Preparation for Adulthood Team and Community Catalysts to bring this to life and I have been particularly pleased to see the way that young people themselves have been involved in shaping the programme and co-producing the activities on offer. I look forward to seeing how this work develops to create more opportunities for citizens in our City.
John Williams – Assistant Director of Adult Social Care Birmingham City Council
We look forward to bringing all things great about community enterprise to more young people across the UK.
By Helen Allen – Operations Manager (Community Enterprise)