Stay up to date with the latest news from the Aldingbourne Trust
With the uncertainty of the world we are currently living in, it’s hard to imagine what life might look like after Covid-19 has relented. We’re quick to jump to saying “when this is all over” and “when we’re back to normal” but in reality, what is the reality we want to be in when we reach it?
Whether we want it to or not, life won’t be resembling anything like what we experienced before the lockdown. Not just in the big picture of human interaction and economic movement, but in the day to day; will our hearts have been changed because of the inevitable impact on our personal lives?
For some of us, work has been halted, for some of us it means we are working harder than ever before, and there will be many of us in the ‘in between’. The changes to our working lives have impacted every employee and jobseeker in our country; regardless of what letters may be after your name or what industry you are in. It’s also affected us all regardless of our neurodiversity and skill level. Since the pandemic hit the UK, Supported Employment West Sussex (comprising of WorkAid at the Aldingbourne Trust and Workability from Impact Initiatives) have been supporting people with lifelong disabilities and those who are carers to understand and process how the changes have affected them.
WorkAid have supported 185 people with a learning disability and/or autism into paid employment over the past three years (and hundreds more in the past 20 years of the project’s life so far), and respectively have given support and advice to numerous employers to enable them to feel confident about employing talented people who happen to have a learning disability or autism spectrum condition.
Out of the many lessons we have learnt from Covid-19, one of the most striking has been the ability of businesses to adapt to working virtually; using online platforms to hold team meetings from the kitchen table and thinking practically about how we encourage collaboration at work. It’s a bit of a misconception that all people who have an autism spectrum condition hate working in offices; it’s all down to how the individual experiences how their brain works. Some people with autism thrive in offices because they genuinely enjoy working with others and being in busy, noisy environments. However someone else may prefer to work alone because the pressure of unpredictable social interaction is too great; but would really enjoy having scheduled team meetings on a video platform so they still get an element of interaction with their colleagues, but can manage the impact this has on them.
This is just one example of how we could think differently about the expectations of workplaces in the post Covid-19 era. Could we be more flexible in our approach to working from home as a reasonable adjustment; in return you would still get or even retain the talented, committed employee you are searching for, but also they get to overcome a hurdle and gain or keep the job they have been working so hard to achieve?
Of course that example doesn’t fit for all industries and it would be small minded to think that there wouldn’t be challenges, but what if that was the beginning of something beautiful in recruitment?
We have also found that throughout this pandemic, many of our clients who are not shielding are incredibly keen to support their communities and step into front line roles in supermarkets, delivery driving and essential services. Their resilience, determination and enthusiasm has taken us by surprise in some ways, and has reminded us the true value of work isn’t money; its being part of something bigger. A team, a response, a community of people working together.
That sounds a little familiar; what is most likely written on your own job description, or have you typed the same sentence in your own recruitment adverts? “Willing to work as part of a team” “Must be a keen team-player” “You’ll be part of a vibrant and busy team” to name but a few common lines in job adverts. We often find that where people haven’t been given the opportunity to experience team-working, they struggle to ‘stand out’ to recruitment panels; could our recruitment practices actually be limiting team working potential? Having workplace trials and working job interviews can tell you so much more than just what an application form or an interview can tell you on their own. How often has the best person in an interview turned out to not quite hit the mark you were looking for? Working job interviews could give us so much insight into how a person might settle into a role; do they visibly pick up the online systems you’re using, or do they get stuck in to getting to know their potential colleagues and show interest in how the role they are interviewing for fits into the business as a whole.
For someone with a learning disability; having the opportunity to physically try the job role can be a really helpful insight into what the expectations of them are going to be. It can also be a chance to really demonstrate the things they are great at; they might be a skilled food preparer or be checkout operative who oozes natural charm and customer service but you might not get to see that if you just go by a traditional CV. We’re experimenting with video CVs at the moment; so that recruiters can visibly see somebody at work and demonstrating their ability; allowing the person to show their personality so much more vividly than two sides of A4 ever can. As a recruiter, would that style and approach to a CV be of interest?
The effect that Covid-19 is having on businesses throughout the UK is nothing short of devastating; it’s no secret that we are facing tough times ahead and many people are facing the prospect of losing their jobs, which will include those with lifelong disabilities. With low rates of employment in this area of the population, this is set to be another hurdle for people with disabilities to overcome but they aren’t alone. Thousands of people will be competing for jobs; isn’t it only fair that we make our recruitment practices accessible to even out the competition field? One thing is for sure, with the right support any employer can take on any employee who has a lifelong disability, which is where Supported Employment West Sussex can step in. We offer free advice and support to enable businesses take on an employee with a lifelong disability so that everyone involved feels positive, empowered and supported.
So my parting question is this; will you revert back to the ‘norm’ when recruiting post Covid-19, or would you like to be part of a historic moment where the workplace really does champion diversity in our communities?
For more information about how you can support existing staff with lifelong disabilities, or are in a position to welcome new staff into your business and would like to learn more about us, please contact email@example.com (learning disability and autism) or firstname.lastname@example.org (physical disability, sensory impairment and/or acquired brain injury, and those who are carers).
Aldingbourne Trust is as a local award-winning charity supporting adults with learning disabilities and / or autism to reach their full potential and develop skills across Sussex and Hampshire since 1978.
Due to the current circumstances as a result of Covid 19 and following government guidelines we have closed all our enterprises including the Aldingbourne Country Centre to the public and the people we support. We continue to provide daily support for everyone in our Supported Living services all be it in a different way. With the use of technology and social media the Aldingbourne Trust has adapted to a new way of supporting and interacting with people.
Across all of our projects there are many creative and innovative ideas implemented and it is encouraging to see so many people ‘thinking out of the box’ and providing care differently whilst adapting to a new way of living. We have had a great deal of support from our staff and volunteers to ensure the Aldingbourne Trust continues to support people.
Dan Donavan, one of the people we support at MAKE in Portsmouth, has completed his food hygiene training online with a little help from Sarah Mitas, Manager at Make. Regular activity packs with educational activities are being delivered to peoples doors ensuring the learning and support continues.
One of the closed Facebook groups that we have created is called ‘ACC Live TV with Jen & Em’ this is presented by Jen Sears and Emily Field, staff members at Aldingbourne Trust. This group was created to stay connected and engage with the people we support, staff and volunteers for their wellbeing. Every day we spread happiness & cheer through live videos, quizzes, daily activities and we have even had professional singers perform weekly.
One of these singers is Sarah Wood from Funky Junction, a local fun-soul-disco band. Sarah has delivered exciting and professional performances weekly that has everyone dancing in their front rooms. Sarah told us‘I have absolutely loved performing every week! More importantly I've loved becoming part of an amazing Aldingbourne family. Singing has been my passion ever since I can remember, and to be able to share that and bring joy into people's lives – or at least their living rooms - is an incredible experience. Lock down is hard for everyone so finding the silver linings around us is important and Aldingbourne have certainly been my silver lining’.
Another great performer is Dawn Gracie, who has been taking us back in time to the 50’s & 60’s with some fantastic vintage vibes every Monday evening. Dawn “has had an absolute ball” and has even introduced a bubble machine into one of her performances as a prop.
The feedback we have been given from the people we support; staff and volunteers has been overwhelming. This group has really formed an ‘Aldingbourne Family’ says Diana Roba, one of our staff members, and “has helped me and my friends by entertaining us and making us happy” said Sam Knight, one of the people we support.
On behalf on the Aldingbourne Trust we would like to say a huge thank you to all our staff, volunteers, and supporters for truly making a difference and adapting creatively during this difficult time.
A consortium of charities based in West Sussex, Brighton and Hove is advising people of the steps they can take to avoid scammers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Age UK Horsham District, Aldingbourne Trust, Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North, South, East), Healthwatch West Sussex, Independent Lives, West Sussex Mind and 4Sight have come together to try and reassure people using their services what to expect and to highlight ways to avoid potential fraudsters.
Reports suggest that there has been an increase in scams since the Coronavirus pandemic began. These include online shopping, where people buy items like hand sanitiser or face masks which never arrive, phishing emails and suspicious callers, offering bogus shopping services or fake Coronavirus tests.
General scam advice includes:
If someone is unable to get assistance from people they know and trust, the consortium advises people use well known organisations or registered charities for support. It’s useful to know that when visiting people or offering ‘doorstep’ services, the charities listed above will always:
Helen Rice, Chief Executive at Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove said “As a group of charities, we’re concerned that scammers might use the Coronavirus as an excuse to target vulnerable people, especially those who are self-isolating and need support at this time. We want people to be aware of online and phone scams as well and to be extra careful about who they open their door to. It’s sickening that while charities like ours are working tirelessly to help people during this difficult time, fraudsters are seeing an opportunity to profit.”
For more information on scammers and fraud, please visit:
To find out about the services being offered by local charities at this time, please visit the following websites:
Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove – www.ageukwestsussex.org.uk
Age UK Horsham District - https://www.ageuk.org.uk/horshamdistrict
Healthwatch West Sussex - www.healthwatchwestsussex.co.uk
Citizens Advice West Sussex - www.advicewestsussex.org.uk
Aldingbourne Trust - aldingbournetrust.org
Carers Support West Sussex – www.carerssupport.org.uk
West Sussex Mind – https://www.westsussexmind.org
4sight - https://www.4sight.org.uk
Aldingbourne Trust is a local charity who supports people with learning disabilities and/or autism to reach their potential across Sussex. We believe in strong partnerships between social enterprise and charity fundraising to give adults with learning disabilities real choices and more independent lives. Cassie (one of the people we support) had mentioned that she was disappointed she would not be receiving her chocolate Easter egg this year from her parent who lives abroad, due to covid19 and the lockdown.
Tracy Milward our Volunteer Coordinator had heard that local supermarkets were struggling with the quantities of Easter eggs that were not being purchased due to them being non-essential items. Tracy spoke to one of her Volunteers, Clare Seaby and she had a contact at Waitrose, Laura Quiggan Community Matters Champion - the story was retold. Waitrose Rustington were very keen to help – they have kindly donated up to 100 eggs and treats for all the people we support in our Supported Living and Outreach Services.
Cassie along with many others will get her Easter egg this year which will make her very happy. Thank you, Waitrose Rustington for your Egg-stremely generous donation of Easter eggs and treats – when you support the Aldingbourne Trust people with learning disabilities and/or autism live more fulfilled lives and become more independent and that makes you amazing! If you would like to know more about Aldingbourne Trust and ways you could help then please visit us at our website https://zurl.co/eEjp
SUPPORT CHANGE . LIVE LIFE . CHANGE LIVES
Reg Charity No: 276484
The Aldingbourne Trust are inviting people to join their coastal charity walk on Saturday 14th March, where you can enjoy a beautiful eight mile walk along the seafront from Littlehampton to Bognor Regis
Abigail Rowe, Fundraising Officer at the Aldingbourne Trust says “This walk will provide an opportunity for the local community to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the South coast, with the proceeds going towards supporting adults with learning disabilities and/or autism. Please join us if you can.”
The Aldingbourne Trust completed their new Quarry Building at the Aldingbourne Country Centre, which has enabled them to offer an additional 175 training spaces in their café, conference rooms and shop to support people with learning disabilities and autism living in the local area.
The Trust now urgently needs to develop their private space for the adults with disabilities that they support. With over 60,000 visitors a year at the Country Centre it is important that there is a private area away from the general public for the people they support and train, spend their breaks, socialise with each other, receive advice and support.
The Charity Walk will help the Trust to raise these much-needed funds to provide this inclusive space for the people they support and enable the Trust to provide more spaces to support adults with learning disabilities and/or autism within West Sussex.
Join in the fun on the 14th March where the walk will commence at the Littlehampton Golf Club at 8.30am and finish at the Aldingbourne Trust enterprise Number 73 Aldwick Road, Bognor Regis for tea, coffee and cake. We welcome all ages to take part, and dogs are welcome to take part too.
You can register now at www.aldingbournetrust.org/fundraising-events , there is a fee of £10 per person to take part in the walk, which will go towards the Trusts current fundraising project. You can also purchase a t-shirt to wear at the event to show your support, these are also available when you register at £10 each. We would also welcome any additional fundraising through sponsorship and donations, if you would like any more information about how you can support their current fundraising project you can contact their fundraising team on 01243 544607 or email@example.com .
Don’t play the fool this April 1st! Instead, why not take part in ‘Wacky Feet Wednesday’ and support the Aldingbourne Trust.
We are inviting schools and businesses to join us in the fun on Wednesday 1st April by wearing silly socks, funny shoes, socks and sandals, or by just using your imagination to create something wacky to wear on your feet. By asking people to donate £1 to join in the fun, you could also have fun by holding your own competition to find out who can create the best ‘Wacky Feet’ footwear.
We would also love to see your designs, so we invite you to send in your images to us or tag us in on our social media channels by searching for the Aldingbourne Trust. But don’t forget to follow us too, so you can see and join in the fun with everyone else, along with your chance to win a family day pass to our Aldingbourne Country Centre.
The Trust is currently raising funds to help us improve the recreational area at the Aldingbourne Country Centre, which provides an inclusive environment for the people we support. We are working to improve the facilities so we can provide more spaces for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism across West Sussex.
If you would like more information on our fundraising projects, or you would like to take part in Wacky Feet Wednesday, please visit our website www.aldingbournetrust.org/fundraising. Or contact our fundraising team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit our website to find out more about The Aldingbourne Trust, our award winning charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives.
“Having worked almost 18 years with ILG, this is one of the things that I am most proud to be part of.” said Jane Middlemiss, Director of Organisational Development at ILG.
Finding a job can be difficult when you have a learning disability and/or autism, having someone to help you along the journey can build the support you need to achieve employment.
WorkAid at Aldingbourne Trust run a service to match adults with learning disabilities and/or autism with suitable work placements. By getting to know their clients, they find out what they are passionate about and focus on the abilities of the individual, looking for suitable employment opportunities within the local community.
Liz Miles, Employment Consultant at WorkAid, has been working with ILG since 2015. “I approached them with one of my clients, with a speculative letter, asking if they had any vacancies at their warehouse in Burgess Hill. I was very fortunate to meet with Jane Middlemiss, who met with my client and gave him the opportunity of a work trial. From there Work Aid an ILG have been working together and they made us their charity of the year for 2016, helping raise funds for Work Aid.”
ILG now have 16 employed staff who have come through the programme, which is approximately 5% of ILG’s workforce.
“For me, working with Aldingbourne Trust to recruit staff through the WorkAid programme just makes sound business sense. It enables us to source reliable employees, it increases productivity and it improves the engagement of the whole workforce, who are proud to work for an organisation that supports the employment of adults with a disability.” Said Jane.
Liz supports ILG during the whole recruitment process, starting with job coaching, with regular reviews to make sure that everything is working well for all concerned and any extra support is always available from Liz and the WorkAid team.
Jane has been fortunate to work with Liz Miles for a number of years now, placing clients in roles in ILG, and after almost 18 years of working with ILG, this is one of the things she is most proud to be part of. Jane is currently responsible for four cleaners at the main office in East Grinstead who joined ILG through the WorkAid programme. They have proven to be hard working, always arriving on time and very polite and eager to learn. It has been very rewarding for Jane and her colleagues to see what a difference having a job means to them, and they have watched their confidence grow.
When they first started, one of the cleaners would just come in, say hello, not make eye contact and get on with his job. Fast forward 18 months and he now chats to all the team, which has shown what an amazing sense of humour this young man has. “This means a great deal to me as an individual, to think that just 6 hours a week, cleaning the work tops and tables in the canteen, loading and unloading the dishwasher and filling up the tea and coffee pots, could make such a positive change to an individual.” Said Jane.
“I would have no hesitation in recommending anyone to get involved with such a worthwhile and life change scheme, not only does it changes these young peoples’ lives for the better , it is a fantastic feeling going home from work knowing that you have been part of such a wonderful and positive thing.”
“Ryan joined ILG through the WorkAid Programme just over two years ago as a caretaker in the warehouse. He is an absolute pleasure to work with, no matter what task you give to Ryan he does it, no fuss and no moaning, with a very can do attitude. He never leaves a task half done, always following thorough right to the end. He often comes to see me to ask how I am and always seem to be interested in others. Very proactive at seeing what tasks need to be done and needs very little guidance, but if he has questions, he will ask. A real asset to my warehouse.” Steve Ettridge, Warehouse Manager.
Liz has seen dramatic changes in her clients, they have grown in confidence, made friends and some have completed warehousing apprenticeships. ILG have truly turned these individuals lives around, given them self-worth and most importantly a safe/supportive environment to work in.
“ILG are, in my opinion, by far the most understanding, supportive and forward thinking company. I am truly grateful to work with them. Words cannot ever express my gratitude to the whole staff team at ILG, for embracing Work Aid clients, making them part of an ever expanding company, and valuing them. I can only hope that sometime in the near future, we can find another company, with the same values and commitment to adults with learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder.” Liz Miles, WorkAid.
If you have employment opportunities at your business for people with learning disabilities and/or autism like Ryan, please contact our WorkAid team on 01243 546035 or email@example.com.
Or please visit our website www.aldingbournetrust.org/supported-employment, and to find our more about our award winning charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives.
“What an amazing night, it was so wonderful to see the community come together and support our Prom, it made such a difference to the people we support to have their own special night,” said Sarah Mitas, Team Leader at Make.
On Wednesday 11th December the Aldingbourne Trust hosted a Winter Wonderland Prom night at the at the Royal British Legion club in Lucknow Street Portsmouth. The Winter Wonderland theme was chosen to make it a socially inclusive event, so that people of all backgrounds and beliefs would feel welcome to come and have fun together. The night was attended by over 130 people, which included the people the Trust support, adults with learning disabilities and/or autism throughout the South coast and their families and friends.
Sarah and her team were overwhelmed by the support they have received from local businesses and the local community in putting together this event. The Royal British Legion Club supplied the venue for the evening, and local businesses including: Tepee Emporium who donated a flower wall, Victory Events for the balloon arches, Holly Walker and Luarla events donated chair covers and bows. Along with the decorations made by the team at MAKE the venue looked like a winter wonderland.
The evening started with a ‘prom ready event’ at their Make@Aldingbourne enterprise. Where local hairdressers and makeup artists turned the centre into a salon for the day, offering free hair styling and makeup for attendees to get ready for their evening. The Trust would like to thank Jade Paddell, Liz Dayment, Karina Castle and Heather Kaberry, gave up their time to help the prom guests get ready for their special night.
The community spirit did not stop there, as local families continued to support by helping to transport the guests to and from the event. Jo Suter and Nikki Mell spent the evening making sure the guests arrived and got home safely.
“It has been wonderful to see the community and services to come together and support what was a great evening,” said Sarah.
The evening was full of fun, friends and dancing with music from DJ Steve Kingsley from Kingsley Nightclub. With support from the Portsmouth Lottery Fund gifts were presented by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress enjoyed the evening, dancing along with the other guests. Steve Kingsley was given the honour of crowning the Prom King , Cameron Locke and Prom Queen, Tracy Holdcroft.
“I had the best time ever at the Make Prom, with the best mates I could have. I am made up I was made prom King.” Said Cameron.
“We want to create opportunities for the people we support to have fun and live the lives they choose. The evening saw a lot of old friends reunited, as they have grown up and not seen each other since school.” Said Sarah.
“Fantastic, what a wonderful evening. A huge thank you to all the staff and volunteers who made this wonderful evening happen.” Said Janet Hanby, from Havant.
“Thanks to the organisers of this prom. My daughter has been so excited waiting for the day to come and has loved getting ready, having her nails and hair done. I asked her this morning, did you enjoy yourself? She told me it was fantastic and fabulous. Definitely a success, I would say a massive thank you for making it so special,” said Jan Ann Huge, from Gosport.
The idea for the prom came from the people supported by the Make at Aldingbourne Trust, they wanted an opportunity to get dressed to the nines and enjoy with their friends, and to include as many adults with learning disabilities and/or autism along the south coast as possible. The event was such a success; the Trust and Lord Mayor of Portsmouth are already starting to plan another event for the Spring.
Visit our website www.aldingbournetrust.org for information about MAKE@Aldingbourne Enterprises, and more about our award winning charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives.
“Benjamin’s face lit up when he first saw the doll’s house, the project has meant so much to him,” said Gill Hunter Nudds, Earthworks Creative Instructor.
Earthworks, the creative arts team at the Aldingbourne Country Centre, enjoy making and creating arts projects with the people they support at the Trust. One particular project caught Benjamin Austin’s eye, when the Trusts former Furniture Restoration Lead Jim Thompson brought in a dolls house that he had made many years before for his own daughter.
The doll’s house had never quite been finished, so he thought it would make a great project for the team at Earthworks. On bringing the doll’s house to the Country Centre back in April, Benjamin’s face lit up and very quickly he said, “Can I do it?”
Benjamin has an interest in houses and interior design, so he was very excited to be able to take on the project by himself, choosing the colours to paint and the furnishings to decorate it. “He has a great attention to detail, so this was the perfect project for him,” said Gill.
As Benjamin is not at the Country Centre every day, it took him just over 4 months to complete. He wanted to give the house a modern feel, creating as much detail as possible, including handmade mosaic splashbacks for the bathroom and even making miniature picture frames for the walls.
The house had been on display in the Earthworks department, where it caught the eye of Mrs Huckle, who has been a customer at the Country Centre for many years. She bought the doll’s house with the proceeds to go towards the Earthworks department to continue their great work. Benjamin was delighted that she liked it and he is looking forward to doing another one as he enjoyed it so much.
"Aldingbourne really did come to town! It was a fantastic way of celebrating many amazing artists and getting into the Christmas spirit. Was great fun for all the family and my little one loved it.” said Jessica Head, Creative Arts Volunteer
On Saturday 7th December, Aldingbourne Trust hosted a Christmas Market at No73 Aldwick Road, Bognor Regis. Local crafters and the people they support had their own stalls selling Christmas crafts and gifts, along with a Christmas tombola, games, refreshments, and a visit from Father Christmas. Peter Spencer who is one of the creative arts students, had his own stall selling Christmas items and even hosted a book signing for his book the Bluegaloo.
“The Christmas Market on Saturday went very well - it was lovely to see so many visitors at No73 - thank you to everyone who came! We all had a great time and raised over £800 for our Creative Arts Studio” said Casper Rioseco, Community Solutions & Co-production Manager at the Aldingbourne Trust.
If you would like more information about Creative Arts and the support and services they offer, and to find out more about their award winning charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives, please visit their website www.aldingbournetrust.org/creative-arts.