Seeing past the disability
The Hub at Atherstone is a friendly and welcoming place offering information, advice and activities for adults with learning disabilities, helping people to have greater choice and control over their lives. Bromford colleague, Maxine Bennett, explains how opening the doors of the Hub to college students is helping more people to understand what a learning disability is.
“We work closely with North Warwickshire and Hinckley college. We have had a number of health and social care students on work experience with us and are really pleased that we are able to give young people this opportunity. A lot of the students are a little apprehensive when they first come along as they don’t really know what to expect.
“Some of our customers struggle with their speech and, at first, some students find it difficult to know what to say and how to communicate with them but it doesn’t take long for them to see past the disabilities.”
Hannah Storey explains how working at the Hub has raised her awareness of what having a learning disability is.
“If I’m honest I was a bit nervous before I came here as I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have any experience with learning disabilities and didn’t know much about the different disabilities.
“Since being at the Hub on placement I have learnt that everyone is an individual and it’s important to treat everyone the same. I have also learnt that just because some people have learning disabilities it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of being independent and involved in the things that everyone else is doing.
The work experience from the college lasts for two weeks but a number of students have offered to go back after their placements. Maxine said, “They made such a connection with our customers that they wanted to do extra voluntary hours to help out.”
One such student is Ellis Pegg. Here he tells us his story of spending time at the Hub:
“I have a close family member who has a disability so had some experience when I began my two week placement back in November 2014. Having said that, my time at the Hub has helped me to learn more about learning disabilities and I have really expanded my knowledge.
“I really enjoyed my time and realised that I wanted to spend more time there if possible so applied for a volunteering position. I love helping people to learn and seeing their confidence grow is amazing.
“I started my volunteering role in April and work every Friday. I’ve been involved with the knitting club and with helping the customers develop their English skills by helping them with writing and spelling. I find it easy to engage with people and find it upsetting when other people make comments about people with learning disabilities. Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you don’t have aspirations.
“I’m working towards becoming a paramedic and working at the Hub has shown me the importance of treating everyone as an individual. It’s great getting to know the customers, offering them moral support, watching them grow and sharing really interesting conversations with them – I love it.”