An uplifting event was held last week at Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre to celebrate the successes of local people with learning disabilities.
Hosted by Pluss, on behalf of Plymouth City Council, the showcase event featured premiere viewings of seven short videos that highlighted aspects of the learning disability employment service delivered by Pluss, followed by a lively, fun award ceremony for some well deserving teams and individuals.
The event was attended by over 100 people. Many were the customers and staff from the Pluss Plymouth Learning Disability Supported Employment and Training Services and young people from the Plymouth and Exeter Project SEARCH internship programme. Other guests included local employers, community partners, and service commissioners from Plymouth City Council, the outgoing Lord Mayor and newly elected cabinet members.
Guests were given the red-carpet treatment, with sparkling drinks on arrival, along with a box of popcorn to enjoy as they entered the auditorium. As expected, the atmosphere was loud and celebratory, as the customers quickly got into the spirit of things, cheering on friends as they appeared on screen.
“A fantastic opportunity”
Neil Cattle, Pluss operations manager for learning disability services said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to create a fun and memorable event for our valued customers, many who are featured in the videos. We wanted to make them feel special, where they get to see these films first, before they’re published on our website and on YouTube.
“This is also a perfect opportunity for us to invite our funders, Plymouth City Council, so our important stakeholders can get a real sense of our work that we deliver on their behalf, and for them to have the opportunity to talk to our service users first-hand, to learn how these services are really valued and how they benefit their longer-term employment aspirations.”
“It is just really wonderful to see what is going on in those units.”
Cllr Jemima Laing, deputy leader elect of Plymouth City Council said: “We’ve been in tears, we’ve been laughing, we’ve been clapping. It is just really wonderful to see what is going on in those units. And actually the joy and pleasure and the absolute confidence that you can see in all the people that are here. And they’ve got the guts to come up on stage to talk to a theatre full of people which a lot of people would find really, really difficult and so it’s absolute testament to the confidence building that is happening when they are working in those Pluss units.
It’s the confidence building and the social skills and the support for each other. We could hear it in the theatre, when one person was coming up to present, all their friends were clapping and cheering them on, you could really feel that. It absolutely palpable. Its such important work. Its brilliant to celebrate it here today and its brilliant to be able to share it with a wider audience who probably don’t know what is going on with Pluss.
“To see these films has just cemented what I feel about the importance of this kind of work. You can’t put a price on what people are learning and how it’s helping them grow. And feeling included. We had a very stark example of what it feels like in one of the films to not be included, not by Pluss I should add, and that’s the bit that I will take away with me. We are all equal in this society and everybody should be given a chance, and Pluss is absolutely doing that.”
After a short interval, the event host, Henry Rosewall from the Chaos Group based in Truro, got the awards ceremony underway. With selected ‘walk-on’ music, the winners proudly walked onto the stage to claim their prize, presented by the outgoing Lord Mayor of Plymouth.
Awards included, ‘The loudest team at the Learning Disability Training Service’ won by the confidential shredding team and the award for ‘Putting Smiles on People’s Faces’ went to Erin Evershed, who volunteers at the Elburton Heights Care Home.
“I know that if you give people the chance to develop…they can go beyond what people expect.”
Plymouth Lord Mayer, Sue Dann said: “It is so joyous to see people enjoying life, enjoying work, and just being given the opportunity to be themselves, but also learn skills at the same time.
“I know that if you give people the chance to develop their own skills, to give them confidence, a lot of people can go beyond what people expect them to do. And this is what employers need to do, they need to give people a chance. Because, once you’ve given a person a chance, and given that little bit of extra help and support when they go into work, you have such a loyal employee, somebody who will turn up, be on time, work hard and always do their best. And you can’t buy that. So, I think for employers it’s absolutely imperative that they actually step up to the plate and take the chance and just give someone a helping hand back into work, because you can transform someone’s life.”
The learning disability training services delivered in Plymouth by Pluss, offer various activities for individuals to gain real world employment skills. This includes woodworking, gardening, light assembly and packaging, and confidential shredding activities.
Pluss works with their customers at their own pace to develop their skills for work and helps them find paid employment. The service also helps to develop wider work-based skills, such as getting used to working life and trying out different types of jobs.
The Pluss learning disability team also facilitate finding paid work, job trials, work experience, or voluntary work. When an individual enters work, Pluss support follows them into the workplace, which includes mentoring and job coaching to help the person learn work tasks. Pluss also works closely with employers to ensure an individual is supported while in the workplace and acts as a go-between for the person and the employer.
“Everything we do is geared towards individuals becoming more independent.”
Neil Cattle added: “Everything we do is geared towards individuals becoming more independent. We hope that this event inspired and informed our stakeholders about the work that we do and encourages them to continue supporting us in our efforts to create a positive and inclusive society for people with learning disabilities across the city of Plymouth.”
For more information about the Pluss learning disability services in Plymouth, please visit www.pluss.org.uk/learning-disabilities.
Geraldine and Beth dishing out the popcorn!
Eagerly awaiting the show to start.
Josh banging out some tunes ahead of the main event.
Pluss LD Operations Manager, Neil Cattle (left) outlining the event, with host, Henry Rosewall (right).
Some customers introducing their video.
The confidential shredding video is announced.
"Unit 4 is the best!"
"Wood is great!"
The wheeling and dealing and making things happen team - The winner is the Woodwork and Gardening Team!
The super hospitable, friendly and helpful team award - the winner is, Unit 3, the packing and craft area.
The loudest, noisiest team in the whole learning disability service award - the winner is, Unit 4, confidential shredding.
Ian with the Unit 4 award, presented by the Lord Mayor, Sue Dann.
For determination and never giving up award - the winner is, Josh Chown, from Project SEARCH Plymouth.
For going the extra mile award - the winner is, Patrick Grattan, from Project SEARCH Exeter.
For putting smiles on people's faces award - the winner is Erin Evershed, volunteer at Elburton Heights Care Home.
The 'helping to fill people's bellies' award - the winner is Ryan Collard, volunteer at Devon and Cornwall Food Action (DCFA). Award collected on Ryan's behalf by Alan Dunne from the DCFA.
Some of the interns from Project SEARCH Exeter, with Learning Disabilities Co-ordinator, Charlotte Jones.