Our aim in offering these services to our local community is encourage a raised positive profile for adults with Learning Disabilities (LD). We show how people with LD don’t need to be sidelined and can instead play valued and active roles within the community. For example, our photo booth work in local schools has encouraged a positive interaction, with the school children and staff seeing our service users (including individuals with Down’s Syndrome) working as paid assistants. Our gardening work around the community also demonstrates how paid work benefits everyone, with the service users not only feeling they play a valued role in the community, but also benefitting by having extra money to spend at the end of the month.
The most rewarding part of my job, is teaching somebody a new skill, or seeing their faces light up when we edit their photo and put them standing next to their favourite celebrity. The most frustrating part is the red tape and the time it takes to make any changes.
I would like to expand the films we are making on scams and how vulnerable people should be protecting themselves by partnering our drama group with local school drama groups. I’d also like to further develop our networking skills by inviting local college media students to work alongside our Smerdon client group, to increase our skill set. Setting up a workshop and turning it into a green screen studio will make it even easier to increase our green screen output.
I remain dedicated to my role at Smerdon for several reasons. Firstly, with the support of my manager Gina, I’ve seen firsthand the empowering benefits and skills we pass on to the service users and how it enhances their lives. Implementing new modern technology has also been transformative, allowing them both a greater independence and community presence (helping to break down down the stigma attached to people with Learning Disabilities). There’s never a dull moment in my job and I feel privileged to still work in the sector.