Help Learning Disabled Adults Gain Independence

 
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Christmas leisure programme
Christmas leisure programme

For everyone, the road to the holiday season is always full of excitement, hopefulness and of course very busy times! It’s no different for us here at PIP.   The holidays bring opportunity for students to really benefit from making things relevant and real.  Numeracy sessions focused on budgeting for family Christmas gifts, healthy cooking sessions of course had a festive flavour and we made our own Christmas cards.

It is often the case that people with learning disabilities and their families are excluded from accessing the local community. PIP aims to help people be less excluded and more included in the wider community. Our Leisure programme included trips to London’s famous Winter Wonderland and we all went along to the German YMCA once again for our lunch!  The Leisure programme and outings give our students the chance to practice the skills they learn during normal term time and of course have a great time socialising with each other. Students also made New Years resolutions.  Daniel wanted to make more friends, Emma wanted to go to Spain, George wanted to play football. Just normal stuff that everyone wants but that aren't easy for our students: friends, holidays, social activities.

We are dedicated to helping not just people with learning disabilities and autism, but also their wider family and care network. PIP invited parents, family members and carers to our annual family evening to update everyone on what we have been up to in the past year, but also to encourage them to use us and each other as a help, guide, advocate and sounding post.  Most families experience very similar challenges and difficulties and it’s great to share these, the problems, the solutions, good and bad to relieve the isolation that many can feel! 

Gaining support from our local corporate community is extremely important to PIP. Two of our supporters Wates Construction and British Land have commissioned an art mural, to be used to inspire, unite and bring a community feel to the construction site they work together on.  It has been an absolute pleasure to see students come up with ideas, concentrate and create something spectacular.  The mural will be launched in April.

March wouldn’t be March without the anticipation of the upcoming theatre performance. This year the PIP theatre company are presenting “The Journey Of Peace” – a story of conflict, resolution, love, loss and peace.  Produced and performed by people with learning disabilities the show will explore themes that resonate with us all, but which are truly important to the actors themselves and which have been explored through the therapeutic nature of the weekly drama sessions.  We can’t wait to see it.

In conclusion this time of year - the holidays, the family meeting and our theatre show always highlight to us that there is so that we do but so much more to be done. We encourage you to donate again if you can and support people with learning disabilities to achieve their potential and importantly live the happy and fulfilled life that they deserve.

A New Year resolution - to make more friends
A New Year resolution - to make more friends
Concentrating hard on the mural
Concentrating hard on the mural
The Journey Of Peace
The Journey Of Peace
Theatre show rehearsals
Theatre show rehearsals
Visit to the reindeers
Visit to the reindeers

The October saw us embark on our annual holiday, a staple of the PIP calendar. Our student’s excitement for the trip had been building as early as last November and since summer went into overdrive! Our destination was the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Activities Centre which is located in Manor Farm Country Park in Hampshire.

The centre offers day services, activity sessions and holidays for people of all ages with additional needs such as learning disability, autism, physical disability and sensory impairment, and was a welcome, beautiful, fun and tremendously well-equipped home away from home for us.

Our trip started at 10am on Monday as we piled into a minibus! We arrived without a hitch and settled in to our cosy log cabins for the evening, preparing for the gruelling activity filled days ahead.

Day 2 had us undertaking various team building exercises under the canopy of our forest home and was a great opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with our wonderful activity leader Phil who we had met during our holiday last year.

After a morning of building go karts and balancing hoops we went out on to the water for canoeing and motorboating down the River Hamble.

On Day 3 we did archery in the morning followed by a monster of an obstacle course where we had to negotiate rope swings, see-saws and a labyrinth of underground tunnels. Daryl was particularly pleased with his efforts on the tyres!

We capped off the day with a go on the zip wire which required great teamwork and support from the students to help each other back up to the launch podium after each swing. Below you can see George and Waiel helping Gemma back after her go.

Onto day 4 where we went a beautiful walk through the Hampshire countryside and up to Manor Farm where the students had the opportunity to feed the animals and milk the cows. The students loved the chance to get up close with the farm animals and gave us a great opportunity to practice our makaton signing.

Which brings us on to Friday and our final day on holiday. After an awards ceremony where the students were celebrated for their hard work, enthusiasm and support for each other, it was time to travel back to PIP and home for some much needed rest!

The holiday is an important opportunity for people with learning disabilities to get a break from the city (and their family) and interact with each other in a different setting. It not only engages them in new and exciting activities but it gives them the opportunity to practice the other skills they learn at PIP, like cooking and socialising. For families, the PIP holiday has a real impact too, giving time to rest or catch up on other activities or even spend time with other members of the family, that may need some quality time.

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PIP student Lauren working hard at Mayer Brown
PIP student Lauren working hard at Mayer Brown

PIP's word of the month throughout June and July was undoubtedly 'partnership'. We are continually amazed by the brilliant support we recieve from organisations and individuals, and this summer has been as busy as ever. We have been raising money with MyGravity through their 'Get To Gie' social media campaign; signing up new PIP volunteers at John Lewis Oxford Street; working on our strategic plan with British Land, and learning about interview etiqutte with L'Oreal.

We have embraced the summer with our annual Leisure Programme of activities. Our students have been getting activie swimming, dancng an dbowling, and have been out and about around London at the Imperial War Museum, Transport Museum and even the Harry Potter Studios. PIP students work hard all year building their independence and life skills, so the leisure programme is a well-earned break, while at the same time a chance for PIP to promote the importance of sports and commnity activities for aduts with learning disabilities. 

PIP student Lauren hit the news stands in London paper City AM in August. Lauren took on a work experience placement with law firm Mayer Brown, working across a number of different deprtments and charming absolutely everybody- well done Lauren!

Behind the scenes at PIP HQ we have been working hard on the launch of 2 exciting upcoming events- our 4th annual Mountain Bike Challnege in Henley-on-Thames on 17 October, and an exclusive exhibition of PIP students' artwork, 'Daring to Defy the Barriers' -27 October-21 November in the Guardian Gallery in Kings Cross. We have also been working alongside volunteers from Adobe to build a brand new website for PIP- this will launch this week and will give us a better looking and more responsive hub for us to keep you up to date with all of PIP's news! Why not get your first look here: www.piponline.org.uk

Until next time! 

PIP Mountain Bike Challenge
PIP Mountain Bike Challenge
PIP student cast some Harry Potter Spells
PIP student cast some Harry Potter Spells

Attachments:
Students and volunteers showing off their artwork!
Students and volunteers showing off their artwork!

If the months since our last update can be summed up in just a handful of words, we’d have to call it ‘the time of the volunteer’. PIP has seen enthusiastic helping hands come in from the Department for Transport, Westminster and L’Oréal, all of whom have contributed a huge amount of energy and been a source of great excitement for our students.

In our last report, we promised an update on how the volunteers from the Prince’s Trust faired rejuvenating our downstairs breakout space. As you can see from the pictures below, they’ve done a fantastic job of brightening up the walls with a splash of ‘PIP green’ and students and staff alike are all very taken with the brand new black board. It’s a fantastic space for the students to relax in so a huge thank you to everybody involved!

When they weren't hard at work with paintbrush in hand, volunteers could be found taking part in a range of activities with PIP W9 students. Groups from the Department for Transport delivered some wonderful sessions which involved planning a journey on the tube to visit Buckingham Palace and learning about the new HS2 rail service. Just a month later, a group from Westminster City Council worked with students to make a fantastic piece of artwork for PIP, celebrating all of the money we raised bucketing with the students last year (£1016!).

More recently, May 21st meant Citizens Day and a visit from members of L’Oréal staff. After getting to grips with PIP by joining in with drama and music sessions, the volunteers delivered a fantastic workshop which encouraged the students to think about their own interpretation of beauty. After an afternoon making art inspried by the same theme, the day culminated in a presentation of the group’s hard work in the PIP garden. 

Visitors also came in the form of musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who conducted (quite literally) a three day musical project with PIP students. Accompanied by cellos, vibraphones, triangles, guitars, drums and every instrument in between, students, staff and orchestra members collaborated to write three original songs. The pieces were inspired by the past, the present and our hopes for the future and were showcased in a spectacular performance at Paddington Arts. It was a genuine pleasure to work with every volunteer who came to PIP in the last quarter- thank you so much for all your hard work and please feel free to come and visit us again!

In between all the new faces, we said goodbye to a familiar one at the end of May when PIP development worker Rosie left us to take up a teaching position in Sri Lanka. We wish her all the best with her new adventure and can’t wait to start working with the new member of staff who will be filling her shoes in June!

As you can see, it’s been another action packed few months at PIP, with more news than we can do justice to here. To keep everyone up to date, we’ve created a new blog which you can find at www.pipldnblog.com where you can get to grips with day to day life at PIP, meet our students and learn about our fundraising efforts. In our latest post, our office administration assistant Jo talks through her working day and what having a job means for her independence. Make sure you bookmark the page for everything PIP- it will be the go to place for news until we report back here in the next quarter!

Hard at work with the L
Hard at work with the L'Oreal volunteers
A lovely day for an exhibition
A lovely day for an exhibition
Pince
Pince's Trust unveiling the new breakout room
A cello masterclass from the RPO
A cello masterclass from the RPO

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Busy rehearsing for upcoming show
Busy rehearsing for upcoming show 'Lion Heart'

"As always, the holiday season gave us time to contemplate the year completed, as well as what lies ahead.  We are continually grateful for our community’s support, while also amazed at the creativity and perseverance of our students.  We look forward to creating more fantastic opportunities for our students in 2015 and hope you can be a part of a wonderful year for PIP." PIP Director Bill Feeney

 Reading back through some of our project reports from 2014, it strikes me how often we seem surprised by how busy it has been at PIP, and how much we have managed to do in each short period. I am pleased to say that once again the last few months have been exceptionally busy- vibrant, exciting and a little reflective as we look to the future in 2015 and beyond.

The last few months have been characterized by a lot of partnership working with organisations that have been fantastic in helping us to achieve our mission of supporting every adult with a learning disability that we serve to achieve their potential. I am very pleased to say that PIP has been chosen to be Charity of the Year for the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis; we are so excited about this partnership and are very grateful for John Lewis’s excellent support.

As I write we have a team of volunteers from the Prince’s Trust downstairs working hard to give our breakout space a much- needed makeover- I will be including before and after photos in our next update, but you can get a sneak peek of these sooner by visiting PIP’s Twitter and Facebook pages- please ‘follow’ and ‘like’ us! The German YMCA have also been supporting PIP over the past few months by providing us with several volunteers, and inviting all of our staff and students for a delicious Christmas meal at the Lancaster Hall Hotel during our Winter Leisure Programme. A big thanks also to John Lewis Head Office, Squire and Partners, Novotel and everyone else who has supported PIP over the past few months- we couldn’t do it without all of you!

The topic on everyone’s lips here at PIP this week is the PIP Theatre Company’s upcoming performance of their original production ‘Lion Heart’ at the V and A on Saturday 14th March. Final rehearsals and preparations are well underway, and we are hoping that this year’s performance will be bigger than ever. Keep your eyes peeled for lots of photos and updates from the show in our next report.

We have also had a few changes of face here at PIP since our last update- we said goodbye to Development Worker Lauren and hello to new Development Worker Jonny, who runs our Healthy Cooking, Numeracy and Literacy groups at W9. We also said goodbye to Marketing Coordinator Megan, who joined us for 6 months as part of John Lewis’s Golden Jubilee secondment scheme. We loved working with Megan, who helped us to create a marketing strategy and build our external profile and made a huge difference in her short time at PIP.

Here is to our next busy week, month, quarter and year at PIP- we look forward to updating you in our next report!

Christmas dinner hosted by the German YMCA
Christmas dinner hosted by the German YMCA
New PIP Development Worker Jonny
New PIP Development Worker Jonny
Lion Heart
Lion Heart

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Project Leader

Danielle Taylor

London, London United Kingdom

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