Theatre visit a roaring success

Regard Outside the Lyceum

A group of individuals with special needs who live at a supported living service in Lydd, Kent, have been broadening their horizons with a trip to the theatre in London’s West End.

Six service users with learning disability, autism and mental health needs, planned the trip to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre jointly with their care workers at Chinook, a service run by independent care-provider Regard.

Joan-Ann Dartnell, service manager for Chinook, said: “The special needs of the individuals who live with us necessitated careful planning to ensure the trip was enjoyable for everyone, but it was so worth it!

“Everyone who went had a wonderful time and they haven’t stopped talking about it since.”

Door-to-door coach transport minimised the stress for the most severely autistic members of the party, while the views from the coach windows in the heart of the capital thrilled service user Carl who is a big fan of vehicles of all kinds.

The group enjoyed a pre-theatre lunch at Byron Hamburgers, an American-inspired chain diner serving posh burgers with a choice of toppings, sides and salads, as well as a pint in the historic pub ‘The Wellington’ on The Strand.

Every member of the nine-strong staff team accompanied the service users on the trip – even those who were not due to be working on the day.

“No-one wanted to miss out,” said Joan-Ann. “Those who weren’t on duty decided they’d rather buy their own tickets than miss it, and it was really lovely for us all to share the experience.”

Chinook’s service users and staff are now busy planning their next excursion.

Said Joan-Ann: “We’ve had good reports about how magical Harry Potter World is at Christmas, so that is a strong contender, but we’re still looking into it at the moment.”

Shared experiences are a major feature of life at Chinook, based on the needs of the people the service supports and are planned to enable them to take control of their lives.

“Many people want to be able to make decisions and choices with the support of friends and staff, and we work to make this easier for our service users so they can lead the lives they want to live,” said Joan-Ann.

Examples of how service users are helped to live life to the full include one gentleman who is supported to undertake weekly work at a local charity shop, which he has been doing for five years and really loves, and a lady who is fond of making cakes for everyone at the service to enjoy together.

There is currently one vacancy at this seven-bedroom service. All service users have access to 24hr staffing support and are supported at an appropriate level, to live as independently as possible in all areas of their life.

Further details are available from Joan-Ann on 01797 322 259 or visit the website at

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