Podcast Episode: Unity Enterprise
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MM - Michael McEwan
LG - Loretta Galloway
MM Ok, now on Iriss.fm we are joined by Loretta Galloway, the Service Manager for the Learning Disability Service here at Unity Enterprise. Now, she has come to tell us a bit about what her own service does, the Learning Disability Services, but first of all can you tell us an overview of what Unity Enterprise is?
LG Unity Enterprise is a social (…unclear) Scotland down in Ayrshire and Inverclyde. All of the services are about supporting people to be involved in their communities as much as they can do. We have a housing support service, we have a carer’s service down in Ayrshire, they are the main 3 services but within that there are different bits. So, the housing support is about tenancy sustainment, the carer support services has got the young carers, so they work with people from the age of 8 right through to end of life. The learning disability services have work experience, so Inverclyde has a training cafe, The Spoon, in Glasgow. It’s a training cafe that gives genuine work experience opportunities to people who are living with a learning disability, and then we have and independent living service as well.
MM So let’s talk about the learning disability service. Tell us more about what’s involved, I should say that I am in a house doing this interview, if you can tell the listeners why we are in a house?
LG Ok, the learning disability service at Unity is called Empower, which is about equal and practical and meaningful opportunities for work education and recreation, and that’s what we hope to offer. So, here in the house, we use this as a base and some people who have identified, as their outcome, want to live independently in their own home, we do a range of skills based training round budgeting, cooking, household maintenance and things like that. Not everyone is into that, so sometimes we, we mostly use the house as a base to further explore the community, so that’s about travelling different places, experiencing different parts of Glasgow and the city, also going to the gym and using the kitchen in the house to practice their culinary skills or do some baking for the cafe.
MM Do some just stay in the house, like for respite?
LG it has previously been used for respite, but at the moment that’s not something that we offer. We’ve got a near B&B that people can rent for an evening or a couple of evenings, if they want to stay here and help sustain the project. Respite, in that sense, is not something that we offer.
MM So, do you oversee the project? Are you based here?
LG I work in Glasgow sometimes, here at the Unity House, sometimes I am based out, we have got a project in West Dunbartonshire, at Dalmuir, so I will pop out there, and we have also got a base at East Dunbartonshire, at Kirkintilloch. Now both of them offer similar services to what they do in the house, but it’s down to the service users to tell us what they want to do, within West Dunbartonshire one of the things that is key and has been going on for years, which is fantastic, is a drama group and about people being able to express themselves through drama and then present that as a public show, which is great fun. In Kirkintilloch it’s art and photography, so they are about to have an exhibition. So, we shape the services round about what people tell us they want to do, and I tend to be based around the 3 areas and occasionally in the Spoon Cafe as well, where we have our work experience.
MM So you are busy, busy, busy then?
LG Sometimes, and sometimes people see me going off as a skive, some are think, oh she is driving again.
MM So, is a bit like, as you were saying, if someone comes to you and says I want to do that and that and that, is it like self-centred planning, that kind of way?
LG Yeh, what we do is, when people start or, we are currently going through a review at the moment so we have a lot of people who use the service who are now going through that as well, and what we have got is this outcome focused, person centred plan, like you were saying. So, it’s about all of the individuals telling us what it is that they want to get from their experience here. So, we’ve got people who get work experience in the cafe, and for them it could be about making a pot of soup from scratch, and there would be certain aspects of that which they can do particularly well, so they might be able to chop the vegetables, they might be able to stir the soup, know when it’s ready, but they might have a difficulty with working out how much bullion to put in, or whatever, so we would maybe create or adapt kitchen utensils to make that possible for people to do that and allow them to practice and capture that through their evaluations. We will take photographs, we will talk to them about how they feel about doing that and then we will review that. So, we would start with a, I can do this, this and this, so I say out of ten I can make 80% of the soup myself and we would want to get to 100%, but not everyone would be 100% in every goal and it’s about us then recognising where we can get them to and keep them at a level that will then allow them to say, “right, I have got as far as I can with making that soup, or travelling on the bus on my own, now I want to learn to play the guitar.” If they have never done it before they are starting at 1 or 0, you know, so it’s about finding out what people’s aspirations are from using the service as well, so even within the group setting we can offer individual goals and outcomes for people.
MM I suppose it’s about confidence building as well, would you say that?
LG Yeh, well I think that’s a lot about what it is and some people have actually identified that as their goal, is just to boost their confidence and self-confidence and really, in a number of areas, being able to contribute to a group, to suggest things, like as I say, we go out and about in Glasgow quite a bit, now some people like that experience and some people find it a wee bit intimidating. So, it’s about, by doing it and learning how it makes you feel, having the practice to do it and gaining the confidence and thinking, now I want to do this just with my pal, or I want to work towards being able to do this on my own, and that’s us then thinking, well we will take this and work with it. Another young man it is about, he loves travelling on the bus and going out and the independence it provides, but at the moment he does it with his family or he does it with support, and what’s built in there is the practice of speaking to the driver and being able to articulate where you want to go or not being too frustrated if the driver says, “eh?”, a couple of time, and being able to use the pass and find landmarks that would make him feel comfortable getting off the bus again on his own, and practising putting it altogether so that he would gain the confidence to go on the bus on his own.
MM The next question leads me on to your answer, it is, when you start working with people do you notice a difference when you start working with them to, maybe say, six months down the line? Do you see a change in their confidence and they want to do more?
LG Yeh, I think we see, informally, every day, I mean, I started this post in September and it takes you time to get to know people and everybody is an individual and have different personalities and quirks, and now I know the service users a lot better, you can see when they are having a good day or have really enjoyed an activity or they have anticipated, and informally you can capture that, but what we have also got are formal ways to capture that. So, every day the group will be asked to complete a small questionnaire and its things like what did you do today? Was there anything, individually, that you felt you achieved today? How did it make you feel? And either verbally feed that back to a work or draw it out or do something that expresses so that we can show that journey to anybody who isn’t here every day, to see the progress. Also, when we were saying about setting the goals, we start with a base line score and then we all get together at a review, every six months, and say, “well this is what you’ve done, how do you feel about your confidence level with that now?” and they will say, “I’m a lot better at that”, and that kind of shows our progression as well.
MM How can people get involved in the programme, or any of your projects? But, what I was going to say, is there a cut off period that you stop working with the people or is it an ongoing process?
LG At the moment what we are looking to do is to create a positive outcome for people, it’s about what I was talking about earlier about capturing, if we have completed everything that we possibly can do with someone and we don’t move them on in a positive way we are then holding them back and we don’t want to be part of that, so it is, with regards, for instance, to the work experience, if someone had done the work experience and achieved everything that they want to achieve and we have recognised that, we have had a conversation with guardians, and it is about really wanting a paid job, we would then be looking at the supported employment project to sort of say, we think this individual is ready to move on to proper employment, can you support them to find a job? They have gained all these catering skills, great customer service and, you know, you are moving someone on to a positive outcome then, rather than keeping them working on a voluntary basis, really, in the Spoon cafe, which is unfair is someone is ready to go and get a job, to hold them back. So, we are looking at identifying positive outcome for all different aspects of the service at the moment. Within West Dunbartonshire it works a bit better, people will complete a certain task and then they will move on, so they would maybe just come along for the cooking group and when they had completed the cooking group they would then move on to something else, or be referred.
MM Just finally, how can people get involved with Unity Enterprise?
LG Ok, there are a couple of ways to find out more about us. So, we’ve got a website, which is www.unity-enterprise.com, we’ve also got a Facebook page and you can search for us on Facebook or Twitter at Unityen, or if you are specifically interested within the Empower learning disability service, you can contact myself, my mobile number, if you fancy a chat, is 07799075078.
M Ok, that’s brilliant, thanks.
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