H Team brings learning disability to life for trainee social workers

The H Team

15 January 2019.

The next generation of social workers from Coventry University have been getting an insight into people with a learning disability directly from the very people who know the most about it!

Grapevine’s Sam and a core group of people with different learning disabilities who make up the H Team visited the university last month for the innovative session.

The H Team
Here come the H Team!

The ‘H’ stands for Health and that is what the team is all about – educating peers, professionals and services alike on how to stay healthy and well when you have a learning disability.

This advice and training is vital for a section of the community proven to have generally poorer physical and mental health and a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of the population.

But it wouldn’t be this way if there was greater uptake on annual health checks with GPs, promptly diagnosed health conditions, effective treatment and more informed self care.

And improvements can always be made in the way health and social care professionals communicate with people with a learning disability – hence the need for some interesting training right at the beginning of a career in social work.

During the Coventry University awareness session, students were able to get to know the seven members of the H Team, each one with his or her own unique story, likes and dislikes.

Games and quizzes helped break down any barriers, including one called ‘Scaredy Pants’ where the students wrote their fears on paper pants hung on a make-shift washing line.

Each fear was examined with H Team participants giving students advice and strategies to help overcome them. Some fears were even reflected on both sides – for example, a fear of communicating in a way that was not understood or misinterpreted. The students didn’t want to make a person uncomfortable and the H Team didn’t want to appear ‘stupid’ for not understanding.

The ‘New Perspective’ game then sees society’s labels discarded on the floor and ‘Mum’ or ‘Activist’ (and many others) used instead. Team members said they are not defined by their disability.

By the end of the session, the students and H Team were working together to develop an assessment tool that would equip professionals to phrase questions in different ways and encourage them to consider individuals holistically, particularly including their mental health. Social prescribing and making community connections may be things not previously considered for example.

“We got great feedback,” Sam said. “The students loved the session – having the H Team there to talk to them and give them advice was better than any pen exercise! It was learning through a first-hand experience that they will always remember.”

H Team sessions like this continue on a regular basis throughout the year and the H Team is always looking for new members to bring diversity and knowledge to their group.

If this could be you or someone you know, please call Sam on 02476 631040 extension 112 or email skeoghcollins@grapevinecovandwarks.org

My journey into paid work by David

David from the Accelerate project

28 November 2018.

The Accelerate project helps people with a learning disability or autism find sustainable, paid employment.

Journey guides work on a one-to-one basis with participants, helping them understand and navigate the world of work.

David is one such participant who spent years trying to find the right opportunity for paid work – this is his story in his own words.

“My journey to paid employment has been a struggle, as I was abused, neglected and partly separated from society by my late adopted mother.

Even when I had paid work, I never had anything to do with my wages.

After my first meeting with Grapevine I realised I knew the interviewer, Mia.

Mia introduced me to Gordon at Grapevine, who helped me find creative writing groups and voluntary work with the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

…in the hope that it would lead to a job I stuck with the Herbert ever since, like everyone else who made the effort to know what was going on with me, suggested.

I then had an opportunity for paid work at the Herbert in June 2014, but failed the interview as they felt I still needed to improve my confidence and skills.

David's journey into paid work
David never gave up on his search

So I kept trying for paid work, even looking at jobs outside of the Herbert, which I have been doing since 2002 by myself and since 2014 with Patrick from Open Doors (housing and support services).

We didn’t have much luck… Patrick then remembered Tess, who had helped other Open Doors tenants with paid employment.

Eventually Tess suggested a job scheme called Accelerate at Grapevine… Patrick and I took up the offer of joining Accelerate and this is when I met Alex.

David from Accelerate
David hopes his story will inspire others

Immediately Alex, in November 2016, found an opportunity for me with Russell’s Garden Centre. They said that I may or may not have a paid opportunity by March 2017, however gave me the chance to prove myself until then.

However, March came and went and I was still volunteering and looking for paid work due to not being qualified enough to replace a more skilled employee. Although they found me impressive enough to keep me as a volunteer.

As time went on with no luck in any paid opportunities for work I became worried that I would always be a volunteer.

However, I never gave up searching for paid opportunities and neither did Alex.

Due to this, as from October 2018, I am now a Casual Museum Assistant at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

I am really happy I finally have paid work, although I feel I need time for it to sink in first, partly due to not having access to wages etc in my past and partly due to the end of the year being busy for me.

Plus, at the moment I am helping a colleague from the Herbert with plants for her garden with help from Russell’s Garden Centre.

I designed a plan for the garden in April last year and both her and her husband liked it and informed the gardener/builder of my idea and he finally finished it July this year.

Anyway even though I have a casual job at the Herbert, I am happy I finally have something to call my own and I hope my journey will inspire others.

If I can get there, anyone can.

David.”

Accelerate is a Building Better Opportunities Project funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund. It is delivered by a local partnership of organisations providing people with access to a wide range of job support services.

Ignite community worker wanted!

Ignite
Change the system so that we can all work in ways that tackle root causes, prevent crisis, help people drive their lives forward

IGNITE is an exciting and ambitious 5 year programme in Coventry. It aims to show how acting early on people’s problems can turn lives around and save public sector money. Our approach blends the Law Centre’s help to cope better with legal problems with help from Grapevine to get stronger and move forward. To learn more about our joint programme please see http://covlaw.org.uk/ignite/intro.html

Ignite

We are two years into working with residents and with two main public services (Children’s Services and Whitefriars Housing) in the Willenhall neighbourhood of Coventry.

We now need:

1 x 37 hrs p/w Ignite Connector £25,951 to £27,668 to help people and families get stronger and move forward.

Application deadline 10am 26th February 2018

Interviews 5th March 2018

We would encourage you to talk to us about these roles.  Please contact John Toman at Grapevine  jtoman@grapevinecovandwarks.org

Application forms can be requested from and returned to recruitment@centralenglandlc.org.uk. Application forms are also available from the WM jobs site.

Journey Guide wanted!

We now need a personable self-organiser to take up the job of: ‘Journey Guide’ (jobs broker and coach) (ref no GV/JB2)

The purpose of your job will be:

  • to inspire and enlist Coventry employers and workplaces so that they will employ and support people who have learning disabilities
  • to enable people with learning disabilities to seek and gain employment

Salary £23,398 to £24,964 (pro rata) 18.5 hours p/w. Plus 8% pension contribution after satisfactory completion of probationary period. Fixed Term Contract until the end of December 2018.

  • Closing date for applications – Monday 20th November 2017 -12pm
  • Shortlisting – Tuesday 21st November 2017
  • Interviews – Monday 27th November 2017
  • For an application pack please email finance@grapevinecovandwarks.org or call 02476 633 911 extn 104. Application form only. No CVs.

Grapevine is an equal opportunities employer. Registered Charity 1107969

This post is part of the Accelerate Project and is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund

We’re an award winning charity that helps people to turn their lives around. We now need a personable self-organiser to take up the job of: ‘Journey Guide’ (jobs broker and coach)