An innovative programme for 3-25 year old disabled young people will be delivered by the St James Centre following the awarding of a 5 year, £0.5m National Lottery grant. Apart from securing their highly respected clubs and activities into the future it has also generated key job opportunities that are yet to be filled ( applications close 7th November 2016). There is also a continuing need for more support workers and volunteers – an optimistic outlook.
The St James Centre, is a charity, and has been running for over 20 years in the Normanton area of Derby providing services for young disabled people. For the last 13 years it has run its Fun-abil8y service which comprises 8 weekly clubs, community support, and a holiday activity programme for 170 young people. The Moving Forward service supports 12 young disabled adults through the process of building their own lives in the community, becoming independent and making friends.
I first went to the St James Centre in March 2015, and wrote an article “St James’ Centre – Community Development through Commitment, Dedication and Passion”. The final quote in that piece sums up the organisation’s spirit.
“What we do seems really simple but actually makes a difference to people’s lives, and makes them better. It’s about making the most of what we’ve got, and helping other people to make the most of what they’ve got”
Janet Tristram, CEO St James Centre explained further:
“Funabil8y is a service, but it’s actually a family – but rather a large one. We have about 170 young people that we support, 40 staff and volunteers…as well as the families – so it is a very large family. We really concentrate on the young person’s ability – not their disability. Very much a ‘can-do’ attitude. Another ethos is around diversity and we have staff and children from all different cultures and we celebrate that. And last but not least, we really enjoy having fun, and we believe in living life to the max! “
I had the opportunity to support St James Centre in creating a short film that went with the Lottery bid. In the course of collecting material I went along to many of the clubs, and activities, and saw the staff creating a lively, interesting and caring environment for the children. For many, they require 1:1 attention due to the nature of their physical and/or learning disabilities – but as Janet mentioned in the quote, this is not a barrier to them having fun.
Nearly £100k of the Lottery funding will go towards completely re-furbishing the ground floor room / kitchen area of the Centre to make it much more accessible, brighter and inclusive. A conservatory will be built facing the garden so those who can’t go outside can feel part of the outdoor activities. Money is still required to transform the garden area into a more friendly space for the children.
The new innovation will be to create a seamless, and integrated service for children and young adults from 3-25, and will bring together the 2 previous programmes. It will provide stability and continuity for the children as they progress through different schools, and provide much-needed guidance and encouragement as they transition from school, into adulthood / work life / college / or the difficulties of no daily routine. The service supports anyone who is classed as disabled, or has a Special Educational Needs statement, with/without personal budgets….and it doesn’t necessarily stop, abruptly, at 25.
This success is a real positive statement about the St James Centre, the work they do, the staff and volunteers that work tirelessly to give the children and young adults an exciting, fun and valuable time. …living life to the MAX!