Attends: Reach Mansfield
Hello – I am Adam and I have come to Reach Mansfield for about two years. I have just turned 30 and enjoyed celebrating my birthday with my friends at Reach. I think Reach Mansfield is amazing – in fact I messaged head office to tell them this. I like to be cheerful and to be a good friend to the other clients. As well as coming to Reach I do catering work at another organisation called Rumbles. So when I found out about Reach Mansfield’s summer celebration I said that I would help with the catering for that and wear my chef outfit.
At Reach Mansfield I do Out & About, Fitness & Nutrition, Cookery and go to gym with the Active Me course. I like to be busy and active and at Reach there are always things to do and you can keep learning. It’s never boring and it’s good because you learn new things that you need to know in everyday life. But also I help other people to learn and that’s important too.
I have just moved into my own flat. It’s amazing to have my own kitchen and I am really looking forward to using it. It is good to have responsibilities. I know that if I have problems I can talk to people at Reach and they will help me to work out what to do, how to get help if I need it.
Friends at Reach are really important. There are other men about my age – we have fun and a laugh together.
Another good thing about Reach is going on the holidays. I have been on a few. There is so much to do, you are busy all the time. We went to Suffolk. You get to meet people from other Reach centres so can make new friends. You can choose to do things like archery, cross-bows, swimming. At night there is entertainment and some people dance all night.
Attends: Reach Mansfield
Marwa is 27 years old. She has cerebral palsy and a learning disability, which affects her speech and restricts her physical movement. Marwa grew up in Syria and moved to Mansfield where she now lives with her mother and sister.
Marwa has been coming to Reach Mansfield for six months. She attends for one full day a week. She faces significant barriers to communicating with others due to lack of speech, physical difficulties, and only understanding Arabic. Without support, she is potentially at risk of isolation and Reach Mansfield are providing Marwa with opportunities that should help her to participate in society more independently.
We have taken time to get to know Marwa and her family in order to tailor activities to her individual needs and interests. We have worked hard to facilitate communication so that Marwa can fully participate in sessions and enjoy them. We have been supported in doing this by the Speech and Language Team and Marwa’s social worker. Marwa’s translator visited us to increase our understanding of how we can meet Marwa’s needs from a cultural and spiritual perspective.
Understandably, when Marwa first started at Reach Mansfield, she felt shy and lacked confidence. Over the past 6 months, she has grown in confidence and is visibly more relaxed. She has built relationships with other clients who clearly really enjoy her company. She has begun to sign her needs to staff and clients and will now enter and find a seat independently as she feels more comfortable with others in the group. Her family have told Reach that she “counts down the days” until she next attends Reach and she is very proud of the work she does at Reach Mansfield.
Working with Marwa has helped us as a staff team to develop new creative communication approaches that benefit all our clients – for example through clearer facial expression and demonstration. After the success of our recent signing course that Marwa took part in, we are using signing more which Marwa appreciates and responds to by signing herself. Marwa and staff have developed her communication book by adding images that will benefit her work here at Reach.
Marwa enjoys preparing food and serving others. It has been great finding out about Syrian culture in sessions. We have researched, made and tasted Syrian food and listened to Syrian music. Marwa’s mother prepared Syrian treats to serve at our summer celebration.
Initially, Marwa was attending Reach with her mum. She is now preparing to to be supported by Reach Care which will help her progression towards greater independence and provide her mum with respite.
Reach Mansfield Team
Hello, I am Phil. I have been coming to Reach since 2011 and I started at Flower Pod before the building went up. Before that I was doing gardening on the YTS scheme. That finished after a year and Flower Pod seemed good just to get to know about growing plants and that.
I’ve learned loads of stuff over the years and can do complicated stuff like sowing different seeds, pricking out seedlings, potting on and planting them out. It’s good to see something you have grown do well and then get sold in a bouquet.
When I came here I met new people, made friends and I’m still friends with them. If I’m struggling I know I have friends to ask for help.
I’m not able to work full time due to a health condition and I started going to Reach Newark and it really helped to fill a gap in my life.
I did some cooking classes and now I help as a volunteer, going to the gym with sports group and working with the allotment group – I help out with people, show them how to do stuff and am an extra pair of hands for example, when sports group do walking, I can walk with someone who needs a bit more time or wait with them to keep them safe.
I also do a computer class which is a bit difficult because I like to do it on my own but Matt the tutor will always help – I just like to do stuff myself – I guess I am very independent.
Reach holidays have been a good thing in my life. It’s helpful that it’s organised from you. I can go on my own and enjoy the social aspect. I meet people from the other bases like Southwell and Mansfield – getting to know new people. We have a pint with the Chief Executive – we’re all the same, one big gang.
Being at Reach and Flower Pod helped me get out instead of staying at home on my own – being bored. They have also helped me with my finances, getting papers ready for a Personal Budget audit, I would have struggled with that. I’ve got a system now for filing it all and my sister helps me.
I go and help out by volunteering at things like the Christmas Fayre at Newark – I’ll stand behind a stall and sell stuff, talk to people, help set up and clear down – being part of the team.
I’ve literally seen the garden grow at Flower Pod, it makes me happy to see the plants grow – I feel proud.
Life without Reach? I’d be fed up, plodding around not knowing what to do with myself.
I’ve been through a really difficult time recently and I just knew that people at Reach were there for me – it’s kept me going by giving me something to do, take my mind off the horrible stuff – have something else to think about.
I’ve been doing the HOPE Project – learning about how to be a peer mentor to help others avoid sexual exploitation – difficult stuff. It’s a British Institute of Learning Disabilities project that Reach is involved with. The Hope Project Manager Bridget is lovely, always cheerful and patient, helping us learn and feel confident, sorting out visits to schools and colleges where we have been giving presentations to younger people about what exploitation is, their rights and where to go for help.
I’ve taken part in courses to help in lots of different ways – Travel Training, Employability – preparing for volunteering and work – I learned how to write my CV and then I did a work placement at Flower Pod and I met Ben, a young, new client and I coached him as part of teamworking, it made me feel good. I like helping other people, yeah, really good.
Val has been coming to Reach Mansfield for approximately 3 years. She attends for four days a week and enjoys taking part in a variety of sessions. Val has Type 2 Diabetes and took part in Reach Mansfield’s Diabetes six month pilot project in 2017.
Val can describe how she has made changes to her everyday choices to help her be healthier and to reach her own health goals. She has achieved her main goal of reducing her use of vending machines. Since she set the goal she hasn’t bought anything at all from the vending machine. She explains: “I stopped it because it has chocolate in and that is fattening so I don’t have it… I don’t have the crisps out the machine either.” The Diabetes nurse has told Val how she is very happy with her progress.
It is clear Val knows exercise plays a very important role in staying healthy and by attending Reach Dance, Fitness and Nutrition, and Swimming classes, she is improving her fitness and activity levels. Val is keen to point out that she always shares any cakes and desserts she takes home from Make and Bake!
Becky has been attending Reach Mansfield for over four years.
Becky has increased her activity levels through attendance at several courses each week that help to get people moving and improve mobility and co-ordination – eg Dance, Boccia, and ‘Active Me’. Through the ‘Active Me’ course she has had the opportunity to try out the gym equipment at local leisure centres eg the treadmill, as well as play basketball and table tennis. Becky also attends ‘All About Me’ and ‘Crafts’ which enables participants to build confidence, self-esteem and feel more part of society – these are things that are so important to our emotional health and wellbeing.
Becky also enjoys coming to Lovely Lunches which has helped her find out more about how to eat more healthily. She feels she has made real progress with this – she has cut down on chocolate and swapped to sugar free or no-added sugar drinks. She explains: “I asked for plain fruit salad instead of the sugary pudding…because I don’t want my teeth to rot. Also we have Quorn mince because it’s better to eat and lower in fat”.
Becky would like everyone to know that making simple swaps or just cutting down a bit means that you can still enjoy food and don’t have to miss out. Making small changes really can make a big difference.
Reach Care Stories
Hello. I am Adrian. I am the father of Dale who has used Reach Care for several years.
Dale moved from living with us at home, to sharing a supported living bungalow in 2014 when he needed more support than we could provide. Initially the provider suggested by the County Council struggled to provide the support that he needed because of his complex needs. In 2016 we were devastated because that national company chose to pull out of providing support, giving us limited time to find an alternative.
We looked into the possible alternatives and were already aware of the extremely good reputation that Reach Care had for providing personal centred support, giving you more choice, control and independence.
They stood head and shoulders above the competition. We approached them and they rose to the challenge, from the first day they established a well trained staff team that took the time to get to know Dale and responding creatively and flexibly to his needs, developing a service around him.
Dale needs support for every aspect in his life, but Reach have given my wife and myself the confidence as parents to stand back and return to a more normal life, knowing that Dale is being well looked after, making his own choices and able to live his life as he would wish.
We have seen Dale grow increasingly confident with his staff and they have worked with him to create new opportunities to participate in community life and new and exciting activities.
For Dale and ourselves, Reach have always been outstanding but it is good that they have rightfully received the acknowledgement from CQC that they richly deserve, and the fact that they have won the Aspirations Training Employer of the Year Award is the icing on the cake!
Such is my faith in Reach, that I recently became a trustee of Reach Learning Disability and hope that I can contribute to helping other families enjoy the benefits that this organisation can offer.
Charlotte and Amelia’s story
I am the mum of Amelia who is 19 years old. Amelia went to Reach Southwell’s young people’s club for a number of years and now goes to Women’s Group, singing and Boccia. Amelia is a lively, energetic young woman who loves gardening, swimming, singing and drama. She has Down’s syndrome and has recently been diagnosed with a ‘psychomotor retardation’ – which is an old-fashioned sounding term for neurological difficulties linked to how Amelia was responding to anxiety, stress and feelings of low mood. Amelia lives with me and her two younger brothers in Southwell, which is a small market town in North Nottinghamshire. Amelia is very much part of the community and is known by everyone. This community connection is very important to Amelia’s wellbeing and sense of identity.
The transition from school to college and adult services for Amelia was not an easy one. We did not realise for some time that Amelia was experiencing neurological difficulties linked to adjusting to the huge change from a school environment to attending college and Reach. Amelia is obviously young and younger still for her age, so being with older people was probably a shock. We now know that her withdrawal, elective mutism, self-harm and change in behaviours were to do with her struggles to cope at transition. Both Beverley, the Reach Centre Manager and Amelia’s college tutor picked up that she was struggling. Beverley suggested that we should take Amelia to the GP, which led to diagnosis and support. Once we understood the problems better we could all work together to put things in place to help Amelia find her feet.
The nature of Reach is that staff take a very holistic approach to a person’s whole needs – they go so much further than just the day care offer. They worked with us to find solutions which included providing one-to-one support by a small team of two Reach Care workers who know Amelia very well and certainly go above and beyond to support her. Beverley has worked with us to support Amelia to feel comfortable and able to participate in day care sessions. The team work with her on everyday life skills like road safety and personal interaction skills such as being able to understand a group dynamic.
Amelia is now blossoming – her attitude, behaviour, emotional state are unrecognisable from 18 months ago. A former teacher who knows her well, who met her recently, said that she was like a different young woman. Her speech and communication skills have improved immensely through coming to groups, and she has gone from not speaking to never stopping talking in Women’s Group.
It is such a joy to see Amelia progressing towards a more independent life and gaining new life-skills that will enable her to be part of the community. She goes shopping with her Reach Care workers, and can now budget, shop, pack her bags and pay herself. She is working on building her confidence so that she can access Reach trips and holidays in the future.
I want to emphasise how important being part of local life is to Amelia; we are fortunate to live in a open and welcoming community of shopkeepers, café owners and neighbours who know Amelia and she certainly has a sense of belonging that re-inforces her sense of who is she. Amelia will never be invisible and I want to help Reach make this a reality for all people with learning disabilities.
Amelia has made friends at Reach both within her peer group and with older clients – this has taken a while and Reach staff have given her time and space to be able to develop these relationships at her own pace. She sees her friends outside of Reach too. Staff don’t just think about running courses, they are thinking all the time about Amelia’s holistic needs and her aspirations. This level of involvement adds value to the sessions she attends – it is a far more complex system of care than just a day service. I think it is important that donors understand this; the care doesn’t stop when Amelia leaves the building. As a parent having people who get alongside you to understand your child’s needs and work with you is invaluable.
The practicalities of daily life of supporting a young person with learning disabilities can be challenging. It can sometimes feel like a hard daily slog that can be absolutely physically and mentally exhausting. If I didn’t have Reach I am not sure I would cope. I want to make it clear that Reach is essential to me. There is no sense of institutionalism – their approach is modern and open.
Having Reach onside has allowed me to carry on having a life, to work and be a parent to Amelia’s siblings too. When things were very difficult for Amelia, the impact on family life was very stressful, now our home-life has transformed. Reach services have benefitted every part of our life. Recently Amelia, her brothers and I back-packed to Amsterdam and back – it was a wonderful trip that I could not have considered a few years ago. Yes, there were challenges but Amelia coped – we all did. The difference between now and previously is that I can have confidence in Amelia being able to cope and that she herself has confidence in herself. This means that she can experience the wider world and not be limited.
The thing is, is that Amelia has not plateaued. We have not reached a place where the care of her has become a mundane routine. At Reach there are staff who are as ambitious for her as her family is and so I feel that she has what she needs to carry on growing and developing. From September Amelia will go to Flower Pod regularly. She has a real talent and passion for gardening which we aim one day will become the basis of supported employment for her.
“When I come to Reach I feel amazing and very happy. I like the people, bowling, Boccia, singing, swimming and going to the cinema. With Women’s Group we do things like crazy golf, pamper days and going out to eat – very important! When I go shopping with my Reach Care workers it makes me pleased to be doing it myself. I can sort out clothes and laundry by myself too, make the beds and clean the house. I am going to go to Flower Pod more soon. I like gardening, digging and pulling up weeds. I am really good at gardening and have done it since I was little. I eat my lunch quickly so I can get back out and do more digging. I am looking forward to going to Flower Pod more.”
Reach Care client
Ruth’s story is one of determination, team-work and achievement.
Ruth has a learning disability and some physical needs. She has epilepsy, Type 2 diabetes and a mental health condition. Ruth had operations on both legs when she was younger. In 2010 Ruth started to use a wheelchair after a fall led to decreased mobility and confidence.
Until 2014 Ruth lived with her parents whom she is very close to. Moving into a supported bungalow that year was a very big step for her. Ruth and her parents hoped that this move would enable Ruth to re-build her all-round confidence and to progress towards greater independence.
One of Ruth’s goals was to lose weight – given her diabetes condition it was very important that she manage her weight and diet as well as possible. Ruth’s staff helped her to find alternative low-sugar treats that are suitable for people with diabetes and to increase her activity levels. She has now lost two stone by being more active and managing her diet better. She is delighted that she now longer needs to have her blood sugars checked by the GP as her diabetes is so well managed. “I know I can’t have too much sugar because of my diabetes. I don’t eat chocolate – it’s not good for me. I’m happy that I have lost some weight.”
Ruth takes lots of pride in her appearance and staff help her plan shopping trips, hair dresser appointments and so on so that she can always look her best. Losing weight has had a positive impact on Ruth’s self-esteem as well as physical health; “I feel like a new woman. My old picture doesn’t look like me. I say no pain, no gain.” To help Ruth increase her weekly activity levels, Reach staff supported her to start swimming again – something she enjoyed as a child but which she felt fearful about. Initially Ruth needed a sling to enter the water, which in itself she found challenging. She now rarely uses the sling and when she does, takes it all in her stride. With her staff’s encouragement Ruth increased her swimming sessions to twice a week and also opted to attend hydrotherapy sessions that her house-mate attends.
Ruth can now swim and walk unaided in the pool, do push-ups on the steps and play ball games. She was worried about getting aching muscles, but staff gently explained that mild aching is a positive sign. Ruth then set herself the challenge of climbing out of the pool. She practised climbing a few steps each week until she mastered it. Ruth’s mum was blown away with this improvement. “Mum was proud and amazed. She videoed it on the i-pad and told Dad about it. I feel proud when I do it and my Reach staff tell me that they are proud as well.”
Her muscles are now much stronger which helps Ruth to feel safer and more confident in using her legs and is becoming less dependent on her wheelchair in the home. She can now climb in and out of her parent’s van which means that she can go on holiday with them – this major achievement is very important to Ruth.
Ruth is good at arts and crafts and, with the help of Reach centre managers, Ruth and her staff have planned a diverse activity programme that enables Ruth to express herself creatively and to continue to develop her social and communication skills. Ruth attends pottery at Reach Southwell, and crafts, drama and bowling at Reach Newark. Her home is full of ornaments and articles that Ruth has produced – including a family of giraffes, Ruth’s favourite animal.
Ruth’s emotional well-being has improved as her confidence in her own abilities has grown. Her mum explains: “Ruth is far more confident and will voice her opinion more readily. She can speak with more confidence to people she has just met.” Ruth has plenty of opportunities to enjoy social interaction with people of all ages. She has a good relationship with her house-mate Dale that is built on kindness, humour and mutual encouragement. Her increased confidence in making friends is proven by Ruth having made a new friend at swimming whom she now meets socially.
Ruth’s increased confidence in her own abilities has facilitated her progress towards a greater level of independence. She now enjoys everyday tasks like making drinks and packed lunches; “I used to think I couldn’t do things but now I know I can.” Ruth likes to show people what she can do. She likes to surprise people and loves all the positive praise and encouragement she gets from her staff team. She also likes to show staff how to knit.
Ruth’s staff have learned the best ways to support her through mental health episodes by listening to her and her family. As she has become more settled and comfortable in her new home, these episodes have significantly decreased. Importantly, she is now more able to express herself and use her voice to communicate her feelings and cope in unfamiliar situations. “I’m fine. I’m energetic. I enjoy my activities. I will tell staff when there’s something wrong.”
Ruth would like everyone to know that she has achieved so much over the last four years thanks to the support and encouragement of her family and Reach. She wants people to know how far she has come and – as Dale always reminds her at hydro – “There’s no such word as can’t!”
Full case study prepared by Hayley Zemontas (Reach Care) and Ruth
Summary version by Julia Sandhu, Fundraising Director
Hello, I’m Chelsea. I have support from Reach Care and I also come to Women’s Group at Reach Southwell, and also Fun and Fitness. I volunteer on reception too. I do lots of things at Reach. On Vegan Day me and my friends in Women’s Group made pumpkin soup, stuffed butternut squash and baked apples. There is some special equipment to help people who find it difficult to do things like chopping. I’ve just chopped the leeks using a special chopping board that kept the leeks still. Special equipment is very useful and important.
Sometimes at home I do my own lunch. I would like to do more of my own cooking at home in future. I try to think about things I have learnt at Reach at home.
Also at Reach we do exercise like going for walks, playing badminton, tennis, Boccia all sorts. We did our own dance routine for the ‘Reach for the Stars’ song, it was fun and we had a good laugh about it.
I love Reach, I love doing activities at Reach, meeting all my friends and volunteering. Beverley the Centre Manager says I’m great on the phone!
I like going on Reach holidays too. At the last one it was a Jackson 5 weekend so there was lots of dancing!
Bex was starting to experience health issues because she had gradually put on weight. Potentially she was risk of developing serious conditions like diabetes and was unhappy in herself, often saying ‘I’m fat’. Bex was breathless after any physical exertion which was impacting on the activities that she enjoys. Bex has congenital heart problems and sleep apnoea and was advised by her consultant to try and lose some weight to improve her health and fitness.
Bex was supported by Reach to come up with an Action Plan to increase activity and eat more healthily – we took a team approach with family, Reach Care support staff and Reach charity day centre staff/volunteers all working with Bex to support her reach her goals. Bex was also supported by her Reach Care support team to join Slimming World and has attended weekly for almost a year with Reach Care staff.
Bex has made lots of new friends at Slimming World and is a very popular member of her group – she regularly does the ‘welcome speech’ at the beginning of a session. Everyone at Slimming World is amazed with how well she has done and see her as an inspiration. Bex has enjoyed choosing meals to cook from her Slimming World book with her Reach support staff and family. When Bex goes shopping now, she looks for healthier options– checking labels, comparing different products which has helped her to understand how simple changes can make a huge difference. This has helped her to improve skills around shopping and money too. She can also make healthier choices when going out for a meal – choosing a stir fry or jacket potato instead of burger and chips for example.
Just to demonstrate how committed Bex is to healthy eating, on her birthday she took in oranges to share with her friends instead of birthday cake! Bex has also started attending Flower Pod where she participates in horticultural learning and enjoys outdoor life, so increasing her activity and fitness levels. Bex has recently started attending Reach Southwell Women’s Group where the group has been focusing on fitness – lots of opportunities for walks, swimming and using the new outdoor gym in Southwell. She also plays Boccia once a week, takes part in various sports such as tennis and badminton and loves going for walks at local country parks.
Due to her weight loss, the mask that Bex wears at night for her sleep apnoea fits better and works more effectively which is contributing to her higher energy levels and ability to take part in so many more activities. At a recent yearly review at hospital, Bex’s consultant was amazed to see that BP has lost 1½ stone and is clearly fitter, healthier and happier.
Julie, Bex’s mum says:
“Although Bex has always eaten healthily at home, a weakness for coffee and cake and less healthy choices when eating out, had seen her weight gradually creep up. She has always been slightly fixated by food and I was worried that any diet could end up with her becoming very anxious and unhappy about food, so tried to ignore the problem!
When a Reach support worker suggested Slimming World I thought it was worth a try – and I have been amazed how well Bex has responded to this. She has been so well supported by her support staff and in the sessions she attends at Reach and I feel confident that the changes she has made to her diet are sustainable in the long term.
I do have one small complaint though – Bex’s new clothes are costing me a fortune!”
Flower Pod Client Services Lead