Story: Jess and MacIntyre

One of the many highlights of the Valuable And Vulnerable project has been seeing how well an organisation can support people to do things for themselves, and sometimes to even achieve long held dreams.

We connected with MacIntyre at an early stage of the project to work with them and to identify the people who they support who might want to do something new to contribute to their local communities. This would be achieved in a safe way and whilst they were shielding and, in some cases, getting less support generally because of this.

One of the people who was interested in doing something new was Jess who at the time we had met had just returned to her own home after an extended stay with her Mum due to the pandemic.

Jess is keen to get back into living a life that is filled with things that she values and helps her to contribute to her local community. Jess works at a local charity garden centre and was really pleased that she is now able to go back to work there. Conversations between Jess and MacIntyre and Community Catalysts helped her to identify three key personal aspirations that seemed to fit so well with the valuable theme.

For a long time, Jess has done fundraising for local causes close to her heart and so decided to combine her idea of photography to help her to do more of this. With support to find a free online calendar template, a support worker with great I.T. skills and a contact through her family a café willing to sell her calendars Jess is well on the way to her newest fundraising venture. With the weather improving and more freedom to get out with others she can now start to take photos of the local wildlife and countryside for her calendars.

Jess was also keen to start up a Litter Picking Group and thought that some of her friends might be interested in joining. MacIntyre and Jess’s Mum came together with support from Community Catalysts to look at what needed to be done to support Jess with setting up this group. Plans and paperwork were put in place, people contacted and resources acquired. Staff rotas have been organised to provide the right support at the right time and a start date at the beginning of May has been set. Another Redditch based group has been asked to help at the first session to provide some top tips for litter picking for the group.

Don’t think that Jess was inactive during lockdown though, she was involved in online activities and groups and led one herself with support from Jade at MacIntyre. Jess is great at sign language and was providing weekly signalong sessions for other people supported by MacIntyre. While talking about this Jess revealed that it was a long-held ambition of hers to become a sign language interpreter. MacIntyre were keen to help her to fulfil this ambition and had started conversations about how they might approach this. As part of the Valuable and Vulnerable project we agreed to support this dream. The result is that now an accessible 12-week course is being offered to Jess and 9 other people, who are supported by or are friends of MacIntyre. The plan is for graduates of the programme to use their skills to help at events and during activity sessions for their peers and others who use sign language. MacIntyre are looking at the possibility of this leading to a paid position for one individual to co-facilitate courses within MacIntyre.

Jess has started an organisational shift which will create a huge impact on MacIntyre and on all the individuals involved.