I attended the Derby Local Offer event at Derby QUAD last Friday. It hosted a number of organisations who work with young people (read up the the age of 25), who have disabilities and other additional needs.
I went in a number of roles. Firstly to see if there was anything relevant for the Autism organisation I am involved in, Right of Way for ASD, second to see if there was anything that could also work for me as an Autistic individual and third to see if I could begin to figure out why services seem to stop for people who are aged 25 or 30 respectively.
Speaking to a lot of the voluntary organisations such as Umbrella, or Derby City Parent Carer Forum and the like it is understandable. Most of them have been organised and established by groups of parents frustrated with the lack of organised support and facilities for their children and families. In these cases it is of course only natural that the focus should be on children, and increasingly on young adults as these families grow up. It still highlights the shameful lack of understanding and support for families with additional needs such as those with high functioning Autistic children in Derby. You do wonder that nobody seems to give any thought to these young people as they grow. There are also the rest of us who received our diagnoses as adults or who just got too old and so abandoned in the wilderness.
Despite everything, there are some really good ideas coming through in the city…
Derby Shared Lives offers support to adults who are vulnerable, either in their own home with a more typical support worker visiting, or alternatively by living with a host family, either for a short break or as a member of the household. Host families are trained to assist their visitors, and will be involved with things like social or household skills, getting out into the community or support in other ways.
Derby QUAD holds supportive environment screenings, which include subtitled films for deaf audiences, described films for partially sighted or blind audiences and adapted screenings for those with sensory issues, (involving reducing volume, keeping the lights up and allowing people to move around. The demonstration of these on the day of the event gave a good indication of how they differ from the usual film showings).
The St James Centre in Normanton supports individuals and their families with complex and additional needs between the ages of 3 and 35 years old. They run a range of services, from social events, employment support, and host a disabled women’s social group. Additionally, weekly sessions for children are held across the week under the ‘Fun-abil8y’ banner.
Disability Direct manage the Lottery Funded ‘the stuff’ website that acts as a great focal point for information relating to services and other organisations for young people and adults with additional needs. Like most things the service is for those who are up to the age of 25 years old, or over 50 years old. When questioned about this, the response I got was that “this is the requirement for legislation.” it was suggested that I write in to point out the disability doesn’t cease for 25 years in the middle. it would be good for somebody to perhaps pick up on this and make provision without needing a poke though!
Jumpz Fitness hold fitness classes for individuals with additional needs or a disability. They take place once a week at Derby College between 11 and 12am. THe organiser Michelle has experience of working as a support worker and is also a competitive powerlifter. I spoke to her at the event and she was really engaged, describing the project as something that allows her to combine both the passions in her life. Jumpz also works with an Aikido instructor in Milford to provide adapted lessons, weekly on a Sunday.
If there’s anything else you’re aware of please let me know. It would be good to be able to make further connections.