Oct 292010

With thanks to Alex Constantinides.

A new charity set up to provide activities for adults with learning disabilities aims to put the emphasis on creativity, healthy living and fun!

Create Aberdeen – a new

initiative – was formed in March of last year as a response to Council cutbacks to Day Centres. However, the organisation is  not trying to replicate day services, but  aims to provide community-based activities which encompass the individual’s choices and needs, and also promotes integration and participation within people’s local communities.

Create members realised that people with learning disabilities had long been disadvantaged, discriminated against and segregated, and that Aberdeen services were going to fall far behind the good practices shown elsewhere.  For those losing a day centre place, a life of boredom, isolation and the knock on effects of that (ill health, depression, challenging behaviour) can follow.

Create is made up of staff, management and volunteers who got together to discuss what could be done to ensure people with learning disabilities had the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities that were suitable for their abilities, that enabled development, that were safe and supported, and also promoted the principles of Ordinary Living, and the rights of all to participate within their local communities.

Alex Constantinides of Create Aberdeen described how the group has evolved;

“With the support and encouragement of service users, carers, ACVO and other professionals, Create began the lengthy process of setting up as a constituted organisation, and lately a Company Limited by Guarantee with charitable status.

Run by skilled and experienced staff, with input from volunteers, the activities are tailored to meet the needs of the individuals attending the groups

“This has been a learning experience for all of us involved, and has meant some completely new skills have had to be learned pretty quickly – Previous social care jobs have not given us a grounding in fundraising, accounting or cashflow projections – but we have learned and are continuing towards our goals.

“Initially Create started with the intention of working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, and other voluntary sector providers, however this has proved to be a difficult task, and the process of providing a co-ordinated cluster of alternative services for people with learning disabilities has not run smoothly, but not for the lack of will.

“Create started by providing monthly social nights and fundraisers, and running taster days to let people know what we were about and what activities we could offer. Currently we are running regular sessions within community centres – Sports and team games, drama, arts and crafts, gentle exercise, music and dance. Run by skilled and experienced staff, with input from volunteers, the activities are tailored to meet the needs of the individuals attending the groups, and the choices they make.  Community Centre managers and Sheddocksley Baptist Church have been more than welcoming to our groups and have given us a great deal of support.’

[ See the website www.createaberdeen.org for updated sessions and social nights.]

“Create are also constantly looking at ways of fundraising and have a firewalk planned for Halloween this year, in the hope of raising over £1,000. Volunteers have been helping in our fundraising, and every donation has been helpful. We were successful in a bid to the Big Lottery – Investing in Ideas, and are currently using that funding to commission a feasibility study. Our evening drama group – Va Va Voom received funding from The Scottish Community Foundation – Make a Splash to enable us to pay for production costs for the performances in 2011.”

Create would be extremely happy to receive support from local businesses and individuals, either with donations, or voluntary work.

Contact alex@createaberdeen.org if you can help.