Do Your Thing is a Community Catalysts co-production project in Kirklees – helping people to use what they are good at by setting up activity groups. Ability not disability, active citizens leading change not just passive recipients of care services.
Citizens leading change not just passive recipients of care services
I first met Mike* late last summer, having been introduced via Real Employment in Huddersfield. Mike, who has a learning disability, owns an allotment and loves the outdoors. We met-up and, with help from Mike’s key worker at Real Employment, established that he would love to establish his own gardening group – inviting people to his allotment to share his considerable gardening knowledge and skills, whilst also making new friends.
Shortly after our first meeting I visited Mike’s allotment and was taken aback at how well kept and just plain fantastic it was. Mike grows various fruit and veg, including broccoli, cauliflower, apples and strawberries. Given that winter was fast approaching we decided it would be best to postpone inviting people to the allotment until the spring and to spend the winter planning ahead.
I visited Mike’s allotment and was taken aback at how well kept and just plain fantastic it was
There are no facilities at the allotment which could be a potential problem for future members of Mike’s new gardening group. Turning a problem into a connection Mike and I decided the pay a visit to the local pub. We chatted with the landlord, who was extremely friendly and accommodating, and more than happy for members of Mike’s group to pop in and use the toilets. At this point it occurred to both Mike and I that, as the pub does a great, affordable pub grub, it might just be a good idea, once the group gains more members for people to have a pub lunch as a regular social activity.
I also contacted The Avalon Group, who support people with disabilities in the local area to tell them about Mikes new group and they invited us both to meet them at their offices in Dewsbury. They felt the gardening group could be of real interest to some of the people they support and offered to link everyone up. I used the opportunity to tell them about other groups set up by people with a learning disability or autism supported by the Do Your Thing Project. Inspired, they kindly donated a karaoke machine to Dave’s Vibes Music Group which was greatly appreciated.
This project is all about community connections
This project is all about community connections and whilst working with another group leader in Huddersfield I met Communities Who Can who put me in touch with a fantastic little Community Café. The manager asked me if I knew anybody who could help out with the café’s garden. I mentioned this to Mike who was delighted to help both with the garden and also by doing some voluntary work at the café—a big boost for Mike and a huge help to the manager who does a brilliant job of serving the local community.
This project certainly has its twists and turns- I never quite know where one conversation will lead and it’s amazing what can be achieved once people start talking and connecting with each other.
It’s amazing what can be achieved once people start talking and connecting with each other
Community Catalysts Project Coordinator Kirklees
*not his real name