Project 49: an innovative approach to day services for adults with learning disabilities by Southend Care

| Azad Sharma

Social care is a hot topic in the UK at the moment and is set to be a key component of parties vying for votes in the upcoming general election. It is an area of the Welfare State that has arguably been politicised, rather than personalised, to ensure that the needs of individuals who requiring an extra helping hand are met. 

How can we go about changing the way in which we think about social care for those with learning disabilities and associated needs? For example, much intervention is focussed on children but one day those children will become adults, so what can we do for them to ensure they have the best possible future and quality of life? How do we go about making services based on collaboration and partnership in the best interests of the people they’re designed for? For many of us these questions seem to come up a little too often. 

But through asking these questions, we can try and steer discussion into an acknowledgement of ‘what works’ in communities and to gather insight from those in need of support. Often, the solutions to these questions require an innovative and person-centred approach to the delivery day care services. They may focus on healthy lifestyles, personal interests and friendships but will support powerful outcomes for those in need.

This is the ethos of Southend Care, a specialist in delivering services to people with care and support needs and who manage Project 49, an outstanding day care service for adults with learning disabilities. Project 49 currently provides a huge variety of services for over 100 adults per day. These include:

  • An annual Big Health Day event, showcasing health and wellbeing with stalls, yoga, dance, music, cycling activities. In 2017 this event received over 400 visitors.
  • ‘Jump Up and Join In’ monthly community open mic music sessions in partnership with The Railway Hotel.
  • Community gardening projects including Project 49’s partnerships with Mendip Crescent Wildlife Garden, their award-winning City Allotment project at The Railway Hotel and working with ‘Make Southend Sparkle’ to improve their town.
  • ‘Kitchen 49’ community cooking group, which helps to reduce social isolation in a sheltered housing scheme by working in partnership with South Essex Homes.
  • Art project work, including Art Doesn’t Discriminate, and partnerships with Netpark in Chalkwell Park, Estuary Fringe, Street Art on Sea. Project 49’s highly acclaimed ‘Recognise Us’ street art instillation challenged stereotyping around people with Learning Disabilities. 
  • They have their own film production company ‘Around the Edge Productions’ who have created a variety of films for others, which includes recruitment films for SBC’s education department and music promo videos for a local punk band.
  • Just Ride – cycling for the disabled. 

What makes Project 49 ground-breaking and innovative is the attention to variety, partnership and collaboration, health and well-being, creativity, and the love and pride they have in their local town. There is much to learn from their bespoke approaches. Check out the video below which is a fantastic example of their work:

To get in touch or keep track of their events visit Southend Care’s facebook page.

Photo by Scott Webb

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