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In this issue

Regional SEN Transition To Employment Project Newsletter


May 2012

Caerphilly, Bridgend and Neath

This month on 29th May, the Real Opportunities project is holding its first annual staff conference at Margam Park. Real Opportunities hub team staff from across the 9 Local Authorities will be in attendance, along with staff from supported employment agencies Remploy and National Autistic Society, Elite and Mencap. The Learning Disability Wales training and information team will be hosting the event, during which the research team from the Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities based at Cardiff University will be presenting project evaluation and research findings so far. The key note address will be given by Jan Jones from Carmarthenshire County Council who will be discussing the changes to the statementing process and the impact it will have upon the young people we support.

Introduction to this month’s special edition newsletter

These hub teams discuss the importance of family liaison.

Swansea and RCT

Look at individual young people who have made an impact.

Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Torfaen

Discuss the importance of youth inclusion activities.


Look at good partnership working.

Training & Events

A list of upcoming project training and events.

The aim of the day will be to celebrate the work of the staff and the project so far, and how we can continue to develop models of best practice for supporting young people with learning disabilities through transition. To mark this occasion, this special edition newsletter contains success stories from each of the 9 Real Opportunities hub teams that have had an impact on an individual staff member or on the team as a whole. I hope these stories will inspire your own work and be of benefit to you. Laura Davies Project Information Officer

Providing Real Opportunities for Young People in the Transition to Adulthood

caerphilly, bridgend and


When asked about their biggest achievement, the Caerphilly, Bridgend and Neath hub teams wrote about their experiences working with families. Caerphilly Hub Team Transition Key Worker Dafydd Flay discusses the importance of setting up parent information and coffee mornings, and how it has helped families not to feel isolated and alone.

terms of colleges and post school provisions, how their benefits have changed, moving over from children’s services to adult services, supported living and other residential options, transport and many more. By Dafydd Flay Transition Key Worker Caerphilly Hub Team

Hello! I am Dafydd Flay, Transition Key Worker for the Caerphilly Hub based at Trinity Fields school where I have worked for the last 4 and half years. Since the establishment of the Real Opportunities project in Caerphilly there have been many successful outcomes for young people going through transition. Of all achievements, my personal favourite has to be setting up a Parent Information and Coffee morning for families going through transition.

Bridgend’s Team Leader Lynn Davies has written about PCP/Family Liaison worker Cath Hughes, and her work with two young people and their parents. Cath Hughes has been working with two young people, and their parents for some time. The young boys, TM and JK, have attended Heronsbridge for many years but have never really engaged with each other, due to being in different classes. Neither did the parents, even though they lived in the same area of Bridgend.

We first piloted the event at the beginning of the school year and the positive feedback received proved how successful this event was. Due to this success it was decided to continue the event and we are now holding a coffee morning once a term.

Cath started doing some Person Centred Planning with the two boys and subsequently arranged a coffee morning in the local area as a means of getting the parents to meet up with each other. Cath persuaded both parents to engage with her and start working on the Agored PCP for parents course. They are the first parents to complete the course in Bridgend and, subsequently, were the first parents to attend the 1 day introduction to PCP training day with Learning Disability Wales, which they both thoroughly enjoyed.

Our coffee morning consists of parents of young people going through the transition period coming together to share their opinions and concerns. The transition period can be a very difficult time for families, and parents can often feel lonely, isolated and as if it is them against the world. As such, I wanted to bring families together and help them recognise they are not alone, help and support is at hand. I also invite selected professionals to the event for parents to ask questions and seek advice on issues important to them. Professionals who have attended include representatives from adult services, Careers Wales, Citizens Advice, teachers, Person Centred Planning and more. The coffee morning is very informal and parents can drop in and out. Parents have the chance to share with others where they have been to visit in


Through the input of the team and mainly Cath, the boys are now meeting up regularly and have started attending weekly sessions at SNAC (Special Needs Activity Club) in Port Talbot and absolutely love the sessions. There has also been more input for TM from his adult services social worker and there seems to light at the end of the tunnel now for both parents, whereas previously

they felt as if they had no one to turn to. Cath has continued to work with both boys and their parents, and has been instrumental in allowing them to become associated with other, to engage in activities together and to become friends and support each other when there was a time that they would have been unaware of each other. She is very proud of the achievements of both families. By Lynn Davies Transition Key Worker/ Team Leader Bridgend Hub Team

Neath are our newest hub team and have only been in place and fully operational since April this year. The team have just started to take referrals and begin work with young people. Parent Donna Archer has written about her initial thoughts of the Real Opportunities project and the positivity for the future she felt after meeting the Neath hub team for the first time. As we all know, our lives are a journey along which we make many choices, some the right ones, some wrong. We are, however, able to act/ re-act on them and deal with them. This is not always the case for some. My daughter will be 17 years old in June 2012, and I have had to make all her decisions for her. This has often been very difficult, as I have not always had the relevant information that was needed. I often had to go on ‘gut instinct’ and hope that the decisions I made were the correct ones. However I always knew that it was done with her best interests at heart.

myself and it would often only be by chance that I would get to where I hoped and thought we needed to be.

At last, there seems to be some support available to us.

However, at last, there seems to be some support available to us. I was contacted by the ‘Real Opportunities’ team via Ysgol Maes Y Coed, and what an absolute breath of fresh air. I have been introduced to what I feel is an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated team who I know have my daughter’s best interest at heart. They have access to so many outside agencies, and know the routes to take to enable Bethan to reach her full potential. It is early days yet, but the relief I feel knowing that there are people there, not just for Bethan, but also for me. And we can all work together. They are also at the end of the telephone should I need advice. For once I feel as though I am being helped and supported. I am now looking forward to the challenges ahead, instead of feeling ‘swamped’ with dealing with everything alone. To the future now, at least with direction......for a change!!!! By Donna Archer Parent

Which is the right school for her? Is she getting the correct ‘therapies’ that she needs? What support is out there for both Bethan and her family? Is everything in place to make her life as easy and as fulfilling as it can be? Until now I felt that I have had to fight for everything; search and research everything

Donna’s daughter Bethan doing one of the things she loves best.. watching Wales play rugby! 3

SWANSEA AND RCT The Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taf teams discuss their proudest moments with individual young people. Our second youngest hub team Swansea, has been fully operational now for three months. Lucy, Independent Living Skills Worker on the team discusses the successes so far in delivering the Personal Hygiene Course.

about one of my greatest achievements.

A Personal Hygiene Course is now up and running at Ysgol Pen Y Bryn in Swansea on Friday afternoons, with six sixth form participants currently attending. So far participants have learned about germs, the importance of hand washing, controlling body odour and keeping your skin healthy. The group meets on a Friday afternoon and the participants have the opportunity for a drink and a chat at the end of the session before returning to class. Everyone is working hard and participants seem to be enjoying it so far.

Following Person Centred Planning with Matthew and his family, we realised has Matthew has a great passion for helping the elderly. I was then able to set up a visit for Matthew to a local nursing home, Ty Pentwyn and arrange for Matthew to start a long term placement. Matthew is awaiting his CRB check and is due to start his long term placement within the next few weeks!!

Over the past few weeks I have been working with a great young man who is friendly and has a bubbly personality. Matthew is currently accessing a one year catering course but unfortunately this course, like most, will finish in July.

Thanks to the support from the Rhondda Hub team and the on-going support of the nursing home in his long term placement Matthew has now been given a real opportunity in life. By Tina Hagerty Transition Worker Rhondda Cynon Taf Hub Team

One of the participants, Tom Diamond, was reluctant to participate in the group initially. He was quiet and withdrawn during the first few sessions and we were concerned that Tom wasn’t going to enjoy or continue with the course. I learned that despite Tom’s apparent reluctance to join in, he had been very excited going home after the lesson and had been enthusiastically telling his mum all about it! Tom has now settled into the course and gained confidence in the group. His teacher sends along Tom’s reward chart with him and he looks forward to receiving stars for working hard during the lesson and showing it to his teacher on return to class. By Lucy Summers Independent Living Skills Worker Swansea Hub Team

Tina from the Rhondda Cynon Taf Hub, discusses one of her biggest achievements so far in setting up a long term placement for one of her participants. Hi, my name is Tina Hagerty and I am the Transition worker from the Rhondda Hub team. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you


Participant Matthew has been given a Real Opportunity in life.


and carmathenshire When asked for their favourite stories, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire wrote about how their youth inclusion and independent living activities have made a real difference! When I was asked to write an article about my proudest moment from the previous year my greatest difficulty was trying to select just one thing. I feel there has been so much to be proud of in the achievements of the young people I have supported in my role as Youth Inclusion Officer in Pembrokeshire.

“He has gained independence – he is now able to attend a social group (without his mum at his side!)” In conclusion I would just like to add that social inclusion in Pembroke has and continues to be a team effort and most of what I have achieved in my role could not have been done without the help and support of my colleagues.

Establishing local opportunities for young people to explore their communities, supporting them to integrate and try out new skills (and in Pembroke we have tried just about everything the county has to offer - body boarding, circus skills, outdoor pursuits and golf have been just some of the requests and it has been phenomenal.

By Jodie Evans Youth Inclusion/Peer Mentor Co-ordinator Pembrokeshire Hub Team

The Independent Living Skills Worker in Carmarthen has been cooking up a storm!

It has also been a challenge at times to find appropriate opportunities for inclusion for all of our young people especially those with the greatest needs. That is why I feel that one of our greatest successes has been in the establishment of our Thursday night activities club. This has enabled those of our participants who have the most profound medical and emotional difficulties to try out new activities every week in an environment that is highly supportive of their needs and has proven to be a tremendous success which is best reflected in the comments of our parents:

Following a menu set by the group, Derek Murphy from the Carmarthenshire hub team together with four young people from Queen Elizabeth High School cooked southern fried chicken and sticky toffee pudding from scratch for some invited guests including Pete Spencer, Queen Elizabeth High School head teacher, and Neil Hunt, manager of Canolfan Elfed Unit. Whilst eating the food together, everyone conversed and interacted. ‘When I first received the invitation, I didn’t think I had time in my schedule to come, but I decided to go and I am ever so pleased that I came and will certainly like to get more involved in the future.’ (Pete Spencer)

“Our son is always so keen to go, he has a good time and he feels safe and in control of what he does and who he talks to. He’s confident too, all important as often he is absent from school”

Derek said ‘The programme is helping the participants to gain social skills, to learn about safety in the kitchen and it has given the YP an opportunity to meet the head teacher on an informal basis.’ This was the high point of many weeks of food preparation and cooking. The reason this programme developed so well was that the school, the participants and the whole Real Opportunities Team worked together. By Heike Griffiths Youth Inclusion Carmarthenshire Hub Team 5

TORFAEN The Torfaen Hub Team’s camping trips have been great for the personal and social development of their young people. The trips allow the team to address independent living skills, youth inclusion, psychology support and planning all in one go (whilst having some fun too)! Two young people from Torfaen have drawn and written about their latest experiences.

The next day we were playing group games. The best bit was throwing the sock in Helen’s and Kristina’s face. After we played games we made our lunch. Later we went to the cinema and watched Mirror Mirror. We had sweets in the cinema. After we went to the cinema then we went back and made our tea. We had pizza and wedges I put ham and cheese on my pizza. In the evening we had Britain Got Talent competition. Some people sang and some people danced. James played his guitar and we was singing with him. We had hot chocolate with squirty cream with chocolate sprinkled on top with marshmallows on top.

When we arrived at Tintern we had to take our stuff to the cabin and made our beds. After we made our beds we went on a treasure hunt to find the hidden stuff. After we did the treasure hunt we went back and made our lunch.

The next day we went bowling and I won with the boys and James, we were the Champions. Thanks for a great time love from Lauren Redman

After lunch we went to play football and I enjoyed playing with the boys and the boys won the football game. In the evening we went to the camp fire and we toasted marshmallows and James was playing his guitar around the camp fire. We all sang songs around the camp fire.

Our Camping Trip by Rhys Armour.

3.Sleeping at Night.

Our Camping Trip by Lauren Redman Particpamt from Torfaen

2.The Campfire

1.The Cinema.

4.Throw the Sock Game. 6

5.Everyone asking me for Self Portraits.

6.My Self Portrait.

MERTHYR ’ ‘ This is an example of partnership working at its best!

Key Transition Worker from Merthyr Selena Elliott discusses the Methyr Hub Team’s recent annual review success at Greenfield school. One of the big challenges for anyone who organises annual reviews is getting families and the young person themselves to attend and take part. This is before even thinking about making the review person centred. This challenge is one that schools and Real Opportunities know only too well. In fact, prior to the reviews starting this year, Greenfield School thought that to achieve 40% family attendance would be optimistic and 20-30% was more realistic. However, since the multi-disciplinary Key Transition Worker Training that took place in February 2012, Greenfield School had made a commitment to trial out the Helen Sanderson approach to Person Centred Reviews. This would mean that the young person whose review was taking place would be invited to attend and to contribute in a way that was personal, friendly and inclusive. Parents and carers would be welcomed and supported to contribute more fully and discuss all aspects of their child’s life, not just education. An action plan would then be drawn up, in agreement with the young person and their family about what happens next to support the young person’s transition.

fully supported by the school in the reviews and Real Opportunities came away with many new referrals and lots of actions to chase up as a part of the Key Worker’s role.

The difference in family turnout for the reviews was phenomenal, with a 76% parental attendance marked so far, and an expected total of 80% once the last reviews this term take place. Feedback from different agencies has been excellent, with Real Opportunities sweeping praise for efforts in preparing families and supporting them to attend, working in good partnership with the school, and the variety of support offered, including accredited work. Feedback from families has also been excellent, both for the school’s efforts in the new annual review process and for the dedication and provision from Real Opportunities, both in and out of school. Previously, when asked to attend annual reviews, parents often felt as though they were going into school ‘to be told off’. Since the Helen Sanderson reviews have taken place, the responses are very different. Parents have fed back that they now feel listened to, and as if they are included in the decisions about their child’s future. Greenfield School should be very proud The Real Opportunities team took this opportunity that their dedication and hard work has paid off. of change to approach families of participants and meet with them to explain the new process, As a result of the highly positive responses, designing leaflets that highlighted what will Sarah Bowen, Inclusion Manager for Merthyr happen and offering support in a variety of ways. Tydfil, would like to see if this method can be This preparation meeting helped to promote the rolled out to all the schools in Merthyr Tydfil for new style annual reviews, go over any concerns their annual review processes. that they may have, but also to give them the Real Opportunities have played a huge part opportunity to plan ahead so that they didn’t feel in the success of the reviews this year and in overwhelmed or caught off guard by anything that encouraging parental attendance, so well done. may be asked of them at the review. This is an example of partnership working at its The Real Opportunities team supported the best! families during the reviews to express their views by doing things like writing things down, mediating/explaining, and by helping to plan how to get there if needed. The project was 7

By Selena Elliott Transition Key Worker Merthyr Hub Team

Training & Events To book onto any of the following training events or seminars contact the information and training team at uk for a booking form. For further information regarding the events listed please contact Hannah at

Project Induction

Project Induction

Staff Conference

5 Day PCP

Date: 29th May 2012 Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm Venue: Margam Orangery, Port Talbot For: All Operational Staff

Date: 10th & 11th July 2012 25th & 26th September 27th November Time: 10am – 4pm Venue: Waterfront Church, Swansea For: 2 Places per Hub Team

Annual Conference

Employment and Opportunities Network

Date: 25th May 2012 Time: 10am – 1pm Venue: Gnoll Visitor Centre, Neath For: Anyone in Neath

Date: 22nd June 2012 Time: 10am - 1pm Venue: Waterfront Church, Swansea For: Anyone in Swansea

Dates: 3rd July 2012 Date: 13th July 2012 Time: TBC Time: 10am – 1pm Venue: Future Inns, Cardiff For: Wider Professional Community Venue: Forge Fach CRC For: TKW/SEA Reps

Planning for the Future Network Introduction to PCP Date: 13th June 2012 Time: 10am – 1pm Venue: Forge Fach CRC For: Project Staff PCP/ILS/Family Liaison

Date: 16th July 2012 Time: 10am – 4pm Venue: Lolfa Cynin, St Clears For: Anyone in Swans, Carms, Pembs

Introduction to PCP

Introduction to PCP

Date: 14th June 2012 Time: 10am-4pm Venue: ESIS, Caerphilly For: Everyone in RCT/Torfaen/ Caerphilly

Date: 10th August 2012 Time: 10am – 4pm Venue: Cefn Cribwr For: Anyone in Merthyr, Bridgend, NPT

To get your story in the newsletter, or for more information contact Laura on 01792 817224 or at 8

Real Opportunities May Newsletter 2012  

Regional SEN Transition to Employment Initiative May newsletter

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