Up2us was a 5 year pilot project organised by HACT and the local housing associations who put £60K on the table for six pilots over a two year program of experimentation. Local partnerships were formed, steering groups were established, staff seconded to support the pilots, champions identified, and on-going support from HACT was in place. Nef was commissioned to evaluate the pilots and provide an on-going learning programme, and a national group convened to provide insight, critical review and challenge. You can look at the detailed results in the final report – ‘Buying things together’.
Up2 us Kensington and Chelsea, run by Yarrow Housing, was one of the six pilot projects and aimed to create a social network and program of activities for people with learning disabilities. Claire (who has a learning disability herself) runs the project and is supported by Katie. This is her account of the project.
'We launched in Kensington & Chelsea in The Lighthouse, which was a great success and we offered people to have their say about how it was run and what activities they would like. People got £5 for coming to the event and money off future activities as well as a lunch. We gathered this information to make activities for the Up2us members who attended. Later on we got funding from Dolphin Square Foundation with the help of Jessica Howey, here at Yarrow. Up2us has been very successful with a membership now of over 50 people.
Up2us has recently expanded in to Westminster and is starting to spread the word amongst people with learning disabilities across the borough. Some people get to events on their own, some people bring their own support and people are increasingly sharing support.
I am the Co-chair, (Claire Halbert) and I run the project with assistance from Katie Baggs who facilitates it. We also have Robert Nessling who is the other Co-chair. We have a Board of people with learning disabilities supported by Yarrow and Equal People.
The project aims to bring people together around mutual interests and through activities at evenings and weekends according to the interests of the people who are members, with people sharing their talents and resources and having the opportunity to make new friends.
We try to focus on events that are low cost/free but we also give people enough notice to budget for more expensive trips like Brighton or Theatre trips. I can usually negotiate good group discounts so everyone gets good value.
We have a monthly newsletter and I do a write up on all the activities. We also have a new website which launched recently.
The benefits are creating new friends, getting out and about on weekends, out of hours and places people haven’t been before. We aim that people will share cost of support too so this is financially beneficial. We think the Up2us trips are giving people confidence to go out independently and coordinate things themselves where possible.
In the future we plan to focus more on sharing support and getting even more people out and about and expanding into other boroughs! We are really hoping the new Up2us website will be of great help to everyone and see more and more people taking control of their leisure time and money'.
Find out more about UP2US at http://www.yarrowhousing.org.uk/beyond_care.asp?mainmenu=5&parent=21
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