A training centre for people with learning disabilities in Dorset is supporting members to get jobs and volunteer positions across the region.
OWL Town Farm Workshop in Sixpenny Handley has helped eight adults who attend the resource centre workshops gain more independence through work.
Paid jobs include working as a waitress, as a speech and language co-trainer, and as gardeners, and cleaners, and as a volunteer at a pre-school.
“Everyone is really buzzing at the moment and the air is alive with possibilities,” says Workshop manager Helen Ritson, from independent care provider Regard.
“The chance to have a job of work is something we all aspire to, no less people with learning disabilities.
“Regular paid or volunteer work is the highlight of our service users’ time here. We support and encourage them all we can.
“They love being out in the community, and getting recognition for the contribution they make.
“Having responsibly increases people’s independence and gets them used to a world of work and having other people rely on them.
“If anyone out there is interested talking with us about a job they need doing, do come and see us!”
Clare Stubley, a resident at Regard’s Two Wells care home in Cranborne, works two and a half days a week at Costa Coffee in Wimborne, and is ‘thrilled to bits’ with her new employment.
Joanne Davis, 40, who lives in supported housing at Cecil Court in Cranborne, works with Dorset HealthCare’s speech and language therapists as co-trainer for professional care staff.
Her job involves highlighting the communication challenges experienced by adults with learning disabilities and shows participants how to use key word signing to support people to understand and express themselves.
Three resource centre members recently gained paid jobs with Sixpenny Handley Parish council, as part of a team that involves cleaning the council’s offices and doing regular checks of the playground equipment in the village.
Meanwhile new Workshop member Catherine Whitcher has secured a volunteer post at a local pre-school. The 26-year-old says she loves every minute and describes the job as ‘the best thing in her week”.
The centre is home to 28 looms where service users like Jane Wyler create cushions and scarves which are sold in local craft fairs and can be bought online through Regard’s website: www.regard.co.uk/products.
The ‘weave team’ have also been busy creating ‘welcome’ packs of bed runners and cushions for new service users at some of Regard’s facilities across the country including Park House in Weymouth and Connexions in Camborne.
Everything is ‘coming up roses’ for the Workshop’s ‘Garden Gang’ who have been working to transform an overgrown walled garden at Rushmore Park into a flourishing market garden.
The team sell their produce from a mobile cart and to the local pub and golf course and were recently asked by the Parish Council to get involved with their entry to “Best Kept Village” competition.
Regard is also employing the gang to do garden work at their Northfields care home at Ringwood in Hampshire and at the organisation’s Regard for Children’s short break service for disabled children in Weymouth.
Town Farm Workshop is one of Regard’s innovative Outcomes With Learning (OWL) centres, supporting people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injuries.
The Dean Lane Workshops have a number of looms and a ceramics workshop and kiln and provides craft, drama, sensory, IT, and photography sessions, and literary classes based in two units.
For more details or to book an OWL day session, please visit www.regard.co.uk.