The Hansel Enterprising Minds Project
In February 2015 I wrote this piece:
‘For just over year Community Catalysts has been working on a project with Hansel, a leading social care provider, working across Ayrshire in South West Scotland that offers a range of support choices to learning disabled people http://www.hansel.org.uk In 2013 Hansel reached their 50th birthday and decided to mark this historic milestone by investing in imaginative, quirky legacy projects and initiatives that broke new ground, stretched their thinking and challenged others to do the same. All credit to them.
They decided to work with Community Catalysts to design and implement an exciting new project called Enterprising Minds. Between us we had bags of energy and enthusiasm and more ideas than was healthy but at that stage neither Hansel nor Community Catalysts knew exactly how the project would pan out. The Enterprising Minds concept is based on our shared belief that that people with learning disabilities and those living on the autistic spectrum have assets, talents, skills and aspirations (and that often these are hidden, untapped and unappreciated). We felt strongly that with a bit of help some of these people might want to use their skills and passions to establish their own enterprise and/or make a sustainable and meaningful contribution within their community.
We also came up with the concept of Community Enterprise Circles –intentionally linking disabled entrepreneurs with local people, businesses and agencies who might be willing and able to help get their idea off the ground.
Through the direct support of disabled people combined with Community Enterprise Circles the project aims to unlock people’s potential; stimulate different ways of thinking; foster new connections and break down barriers and misconceptions. It links really well with all the changes happening following the Self Directed Support Scotland Act in 2013 and offers new ways to think about services and service use.
Coordinator Alyson Miller was appointed by Hansel to lead the work and she has brought a real energy combined with a passion for people and her local community that is more than a little infectious! We established a group of people from the local community called the Enterprise Connectors, folks with all sorts of connections and links to the project and the people involved, The connectors have been so good at steering proceedings, making connections, imagining possibilities and supporting Alyson with a real ‘can do’ flair’
In May 2015 the project reached its one year milestone, celebrated at an amazing celebration event last week. All the people involved came together and people were supported to talk about themselves and share their story. Mark, a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy with autism who shares his love of knitting and handicraft with older people at a local nursing home. Sapphire a young woman who loves photography crafting greetings cards depicting the Ayrshire coastline that she loves and selling them through local shops.
Alyson, Mark, Sapphire and the people connected to Enterprising Minds have produced a great video, guaranteed to make you smile and which really brings the project to life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geAYQZTxkHQ&feature=youtu.be . We’ve also written a detailed report of the work, again sharing stories but also linking Enterprising Minds to the wider strategic context in Scotland and exploring lessons learned and project legacy http://issuu.com/hanselorg/docs/hansel_enterprising_minds_may_2015/1
The really good news is that Hansel have decided to continue Enterprising Minds for another year and that Alyson already has quite a few people interested in getting involved.
It has been an amazing piece of work to be part of – a creative journey, alongside some inspirational people, resulting in some cracking outcomes…it doesn’t get much better than that. At the event a slogan for Enterprising Minds emerged and which seemed to sum things up for a lot of people ‘if you can dream it you can do it’ -and all I can say is ‘amen to that’