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Opportunities knock for Peterborough adults with learning disabilities

A programme that supports adults with learning disabilities and autism is encouraging Peterborough businesses to provide employment opportunities.
Tommy Smith
Wood Green volunteer Tommy Smith. Photo: John Baker

Day Opportunities, managed by City College Peterborough, wants the adults they support to live the fullest life they possibly can. The programme supports more than 250 people across its four main Peterborough locations and in the community.

Getting a job, even if it’s for just a few hours each week, is cited as being a number one priority for many of the adults.

However, according to the charity Mencap, just six per cent of people with a learning disability are in employment in the UK.

Day Opportunities has worked with almost 50 employers in Peterborough over the last two years, securing 119 work placements during this period. The impact on the adults is considerable allowing them to grow confidence, independence and social skills.

Patrick Donnelly works part-time as a customer care assistant at a McDonalds branch in Peterborough, after finding the role with the support of Day Opportunities.

Patrick has embraced the ethos of Day Opportunities and told us: “I love the job at McDonalds as I am out meeting people. My job is to make sure the customers are okay and to clean the tables. I want to improve, I want to learn, and I hope to get extra hours in the future.”

Organisations providing work opportunities also include Peterborough Cathedral; Iceland in Bretton; The Entertainer toy shop in Bridge Street; Sphere RHSM in Lynch Wood; WestRaven Community Café in Westwood, and New Ark City Farm in Peterborough.

 

Another location is Wood Green Animal Shelter Charity Shop in Long Causeway. Manager Aimi Horne said of the volunteer interns: "They've been fantastic and we wouldn't have got through this first year without them.

"They have grown so much as people since they started here - we're all a bit proud of them really. 

"The customers love to come in and have a gossip and a catch-up with them. We've done a lot of work with customer service and engagement with them, just so that they're comfortable - and they're now all brilliant at it."

Senior Day Opportunities Manager, Paul Mansfield, said: “When you ask the people we work with what they want to achieve with their lives then it usually would be to have a job.

“It is so satisfying to see the people we work with, often who have overcome many hurdles in their life, gain employment and develop their skills. It makes our job so worthwhile.

“Take Patrick, for example, his independence has significantly grown since being with Day Opportunities and he can’t wait to gain more experience and skills in the workplace.

“We find that jobs that involve repetitive tasks such as putting clothes on hangers or stacking items tend to best suit the people we work with.”
Day Opportunities also runs micro-enterprises including a catering company, Royce Rolls, where supported people deliver buffets to companies hosting events across Peterborough, and Hampton Handy Crafts, where adults make gifts out of wood to sell.

The Rolls Royce service is available to organisations in Peterborough and more information can be given by contacting Day Opportunities.

Julie Bennett, Vice Principal – Day Opportunities and Innovation Pilot at City College Peterborough, added: “People with learning disabilities don’t always have access to the same employment opportunities as everyone else. We are keen to hear from local businesses and organisations who might be able to offer employment to the people we work with.

“We have a dedicated team of staff who will be able to support at every stage of the recruitment process.”


Mencap say just 6pc of people with a learning disability are in employment in the UK.

Day Opportunities has worked with almost 50 employers in Peterborough over the last two years, securing 119 work placements during this period. The impact on the adults is considerable allowing them to grow confidence, independence and social skills

They want more Peterborough people/organisations to be aware of this programme and to offer employment opportunities

You can contact City College Peterborough’s Day Opportunities programme via Leanne Yates on lyates@citycollegepeterborough.ac.uk





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