By Andy Hirst
Huddersfield people with mild to moderate learning difficulties are eager to do community work and have urged people to come forward with projects for them.
They all attend centres run by Ability Options which provides day care during the week.
The first centre was set up in Holmfirth by Lynn Barber after she worked in social care as a support worker and was anxious to give people with learning disabilities the chance to live meaningful and independent lives.
She established the first centre in a former pre-school building behind Wooldale Community Centre on Robert Lane in Wooldale in February 2018.
It’s proved to be so popular they now have another centre on De Trafford Street in Crosland Moor.
The Wooldale centre concentrates on making arts and crafts which the members sell and they also go out on activities such as walking and swimming. The Crosland Moor base focuses on independent living.
About half the members live with parents at home while others are in supported living accommodation. They are aged from 18 up to 80.
At Crosland Moor part of the centre is set up like a bedsit where the members learn skills including washing, cooking, cleaning, ironing, budgeting money, shopping and how to travel on public transport.
Lynn said: “I’m a very passionate believer that people with disabilities should have equal choice and our members really want to help out in the community.
“A group now helps the Friends of Beaumont Park with gardening in the park each week but there must be many other projects out there we can help with which will give our members a real sense of achievement.”
Ability Options can help with gardening projects such as weeding and planting or simple administration tasks for businesses such as putting information in envelopes to send out.
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney, who recently visited Ability Options, said: “I was really impressed with the activity-based environment the team provides for local adults with learning disabilities.
“It’s wonderful to see an organisation with a mission to provide fun and meaningful activities for their members to learn new skills which enable them to gain maximum independence.”
READ MORE: Beaumont Park is the pride of Huddersfield
Since May, Ability Options have branched out into offering holidays for their members and other people with mild to moderate learning disabilities which gives them a whole new social experience outside Huddersfield and the chance to meet new friends.
Some have been to Pontins in Southport and a trip is planned to Whitby and Scarborough in November.
The Ability Options centres operate Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm and they have a couple of minibuses to pick people up. The menu each lunchtime always includes a hot meal.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.