The Skills House would make a huge difference to the lives of many children, young people and young adults with disabilities who otherwise would not get the opportunity to learn life skills - through a personal, individual, focused programme of activities. It will enhance their lives now and enable them to be ready for their future. It will also give many families valued respite opportunity. The house will also provide a safe space to meet in small supported groups (following Government COVID19 advice on social distancing) once small gatherings can restart, ensuring that Cheesy Waffles can continue to support the social and life skills development needs of it's members, in a safe setting. The project is currently engaging with members at home through a 'Remote Rainbow Project' - providing daily timetabled activities, support and opportunities to communicate with staff and other members.
We would like to develop a new venture, ‘The Skills House’. The aim is to purchase a 3-bedroom property in the Durham area, close to shops and central to bus routes.
The Property will:
- Provide a 'home' setting that would offer personal residential opportunities for children, young people and adults with disabilities, to develop one to one support and to offer bespoke training and skills activities for project members.
- Enhance our current ‘Skills for Life’ Training that is delivered across all Clubs and Projects giving the opportunity to learn how to do individual tasks, look after a home, personal care, budgeting, shopping, travel and gardening.
The Cheesy Waffles Project is open to children, young people and adults from age 7 years plus with learning disabilities from across Durham. Our current membership is at 118 residing in the outlying villages of Durham City. We deliver age appropriate activities for different age groups to engage in positive activities that will enhance learning and lead towards a healthy and happy adulthood. A focus is made on learning skills for life to promote independence and how to stay safe. The Skills House would open up the opportunity to enhance this learning and would deliver programmes that would cover – gardening, cooking, money management, personal care, independent travel, social activities, communication, healthy eating and house keeping, as well as overnight residential stays.
Community Work is an integral part of our Project, working with other local groups and raising disability awareness in a positive and engaging way. The Skills House would enhance this work giving an opportunity to deliver wellbeing activities - for example; community gardening club, art group, small coffee morning events etc. as well as opportunity for community volunteers.
The Skills House would work with local business and organisations with visits to the local library, shopping at local retailers and connecting with other community groups and facilities.
Feedback has been received from parents and carers in favour of the project with advice and offers of support to help it start up.
We have also had an offer of support from a local property developer/ landlord who can advise on refurbishment, suppliers etc.
Children, Young People and Families:
Children and young people with a disability will be supported with the learning of basic life skills. All of our members from age 7 to 30 years (100 members) will have the opportunity to visit The Skills House to receive focused one to one support and learn how to carry out tasks identified by themselves or parents/carers. A focus will also be made on communication development, working with others, meeting new people and being part of a community. Once established the Skills House will be available for other children and young people outside of our project.
The Children and young people who access the Skills House will have raised aspirations, a boost in self confidence and will learn how to carry out tasks and skills that will support with transition towards a safe, independent and happy adulthood. Families will benefit, as sessions and residentials will give respite to parents/carers/siblings and also give opportunity for families to identify the needs of the child/young person and work with staff to develop a targeted/focused programme for the disabled child/young person. The Skills House, once established can offer family sessions to support family members on how to teach basic skills and steps that can be put in place in the family home to encourage learning and development.
Once the skills house is established the aim is to further develop our intergenerational work. This will involve a local older people supporting our children and young people at the Skills House passing on their knowledge and skills – anything from cookery and gardening to geology, music appreciation and local history. We have a group of local older people (age 60+) who we work with regularly and have recently delivered courses including cookery, ceramics, dance and women in WW1. We would like to see this group of 10 local people develop to a more regular group and offer more places to others in the community. We would offer use of our garden and community space for to small local community groups to meet up regularly.
Health and Well-being:
Health and well being will be a main focus of the Skills House. Positive mental health will be encouraged through activities that will raise self-esteem and self-worth. Activities that keep the body and mind active like gardening, cookery, art and keeping a house will give a focus on skills that can be developed or learnt. There will also be a programme of living a healthy lifestyle with a focus on healthy eating and exercise.
We need £90,000 to purchase a property in the chosen area and we have already secured £44,000 towards this target (£46,000 still to raise, but we have a fundraising strategy and are applying to supporters and funders in the local area). Your support today could take us a step further in making The Skills House happen.
We also have offers of 'in kind' support to develop the property once purchased.
Your support will make a significant difference to the lives of and future opportunities for children, young people and young adults with disabilities.