What a exciting day we had. We Knew the cameras were coming in today and have been sorting out the Centre to accommodate them. Half an hour before they get there, a company we have been waiting for to turn up for months, to do some revamp work on our building actually came today...yeay!...erm...quick explanation was in order and I had to leave them to it to decide what there first job was going to be! We were told the camera peeps would stay all day. So me being me tried to be all organized, I wrote out a order of what should be filmed when and where and who should be in the shots...well that all went out the window. The two really lovely ladies turned up and said they could only stay one hour and forty five minutes....eeeekk!
Plan b was put in action...wing it! The buzz created in the Centre because the plan was gone, was electric. I had to phone people up who were set to come after lunch and ask if they could get there NOW!! It was chaos but in a good way. Everyone was laughing and having fun. We got some great photo's and lots of film that we were doing ourselves.Lisa and Teresa had set up arts and crafts which got filmed right away. They made some lovely Christmas gifts...which incidentally are now on sale. I am so proud of how everyone pulled together and got on with it. Just as I thought we'd cracked it with a new plan, the electrician turned up who we'd been waiting for to repair a lighting problem. We needed the lights so let him get on with it.
"Where should we film now" said Kate the camera woman. Lorenzo's fabulous art course. So off we trot into the art room and was faced with electrician man up a ladder right in the way!!....OooooKay!!...Andy the story teller it is then!!
Jackie our shop manageress had spent weeks sorting out all our stock and with the help of a few others, she emptied the back room which had been a total mess and I mean a really big total mess!!. I wanted this cleared (and yes I helped too) so we could use it as it was intended and that was to be a quiet, relaxing space where our office is and the quiet corner. Andy the story teller was set up in here and ready to be filmed. I quickly shot back into the front room to gather people to sit around and listen. He had prepared a short story, I didn't expect the whole thing to be filmed, but he was so engaging with everyone, the whole thing was captured....If we win the money, he is going to be a part of our weekly activities.
After the story, I opened the door in hope that the electrician was gone and ....yeay he had! phew! on to Lorenzo's art course. This was hilarious. Lorenzo had set up easels with already finished paintings on and they had to pretend to paint. Mostly they did a great job of this but looking at the delicately painted pictures on the easels and seeing our lot whooshing the brush all over it was funny....you had to be there! This is a brilliant art course and one we intend to put on as soon as we get funding. It is a therapy art course all about discovering yourself. I went on it to see if it was right for us and was blown away by it. This one will be great for parents and carers that feel they have lost themselves from being a mum of a child/adult with disabilities....I've been there, I know how hard it can be!
Once that was finished it was back into the front room and filming of more activities. Amanda was there with her jewellery making and there were shots of table top football, Yu-Gi-Oh, computer work and people just having fun. Kate had interviewed Fee and Amanda and was very impressed with what they had to say....I have to wait until 25th of Nov to find out exactly what that was. I had my interview...I have to say, she who loves to chat and loves the camera, just thought...OMG....OMG....OMG...don't forget anything important, don't look away from the interviewer, Don't lick the front of your teeth ( a habit of mine) do smile, do emphasise all the right things....so, consequently, I can't remember one thing I said...I have to wait for the 25th to find out that too! Then came the group shot, we all stood around the art table in our front room and we capture what I think was a great ending to our film. So yes, a great day with great people of who I was extremely proud to be a part of the team.
Well hello to everyone who has taken the time to visit our website. This is the very first blog and I thought I would start by posting the business plan that I put together. I hope you understand it as it is my very first attempt at doing one.
The reason for the business plan is that we're wanting to make big changes at the centre, these changes are going to cost money so we need to go for funding. When I found out I had to do a business plan....yikes! came to mind, but I surprised myself. For the many that don't know our Centre, we're all about being supportive and accepting of everyone and we are prepared to do what it takes to achieve that.
The Centre has been a work in progress. We started off with very little and over the past two and a half years we have built up to a well loved Centre overflowing with things. The snack bar turned into a coffee bar, the activity space was taken over by a shop and we found out that our service users weren't interested in academic courses, they wanted fun activities....so that's what they got!.....and who doesn't like to have fun.
I will keep posting what we have been up to and hopefully I will manage to get others to make some postings too. But for now....get a load of this, make yourself comfy because it's a long one :-D xx
Unity Centre business plan
1. The need we have identified with in our area.
There are many activities in our area for people with a learning difficulty but these come at a cost. We have identified that there are many people in our town who do not qualify for personal grants, so they can’t afford to take part in many of these activities. These are the people with mild/moderate learning difficulties who live alone or with parents/carers. Currently they either stay at home because they don’t feel comfortable or accepted in the mainstream community, or they can only afford one or two activities per week. This can lead to them being isolated, withdrawn from life, loss of self-esteem, confidence, depression and anxieties. Some of them turn to alcohol through boredom and having no sense of self-worth.
We aim to provide a social centre where seven days a week they can come on a drop in basis to mix with friends, take part in activities and have fun which will help them to learn, gain confidence and stave off depression and anxieties. They can also gain work experience (six days a week) in our small café and shop area if they wish, taking the opportunity to gain training and certificates.
Along with this we will provide support with form filling, understanding mail that they have received, legal support, Hate & mate Crime support as well as sign posting to other activities available in our town that they may be interested in.
2 What other groups or services are addressing the need in our area.
At present there are no other groups offering this service free in our area to vulnerable adults who are not in a works related program put on via the job centre. Some offer free work experience to schools and colleges but we aim to give free work experience to people in education and those that are not and tailor it to the individual’s capabilities.
3 The main aim of our group is to:
Provide a social centre for people with a mild/moderate learning difficulty, giving them free work experience in a café & shop environment along with them helping with activities that are being put on in the centre.
4 Our target group is:
People with mild/moderate learning difficulties who live in the community either on their own or with parent/carers. Those that have limited support due to not being learning disabled enough to qualify for personal grants, key workers or social workers. These people fall through the loop of services and can become isolated as they have no outside support or knowledge on how or where to access activities.
5 How will we achieve our aim?
To achieve our aim we plan to apply for funding to rebuild part of our premises so we can build a kitchen that meets building regulations. This will be part of our Café area. Also fit out a shop area, office and quiet room, store rooms and utility area. In these areas we plan to give training/work experience in:
. We would like to employ two part time cooks to share the load over 6 days, so we know there will be someone reliable to work daily instead of a volunteer.
. Kitchen duties, preparing meals, cooking, health and hygiene, menu selection, preparation and execution of High tea,
. The importance of working as a team.
. Coffee bar, serving customers, use of till, making hot beverages.
. Waitressing duties, taking food orders, serving food, customer care, health and hygiene, use of till, use of washing machine when cleaning tea towels, table cloths etc.
. This will help to build self-confidence and helping them to talk to people they don’t know.
. Once a month we will put on a high tea, which will mean table cloths, flowers on the tables, nice crockery and cutlery.
. All people doing work experience will wear a smart uniform which they will learn to wash. Dry and iron themselves in the centre.
. We will have tables inside and out.
. There will also be a comfy sofa seating area for socializing and a more relaxed area.
. We have Key Skills training company who have agreed to come on board with the training. We would like an interactive whiteboard to use to help in training.
. There will be small art items on tables for children, ie colouring activities.
. Work experience will be given in customer service, displaying goods, use of a till, sorting out clothes to what is good enough to sell, needs washing, or bagged up for the rag man.
. They will learn how to use the washing machine and dryer when washing donated clothes.
.Maintaining a clear workplace, pricing goods, using the steamer to iron clothes, learning how to dispose broken goods safely.
.They will get health and safety training in this area.
. Work experience people will be in a casual uniform with a name badge.
.They will become more able to speak with people they don’t know.
This will be seven days a week of different activities mainly in an afternoon. These include,
. Music, we will vary this with, entertainers, bang and crash beat sessions and karaoke.
. Discover yourself through art, a programme designed to help people not only become better at art but to also learn about their feelings, the way they see the world and portray that in an artistic way.
. Interactive storytelling, time to take part in a story using props and making up part of the story yourself.
. Table top games, traditional games ie: ludo, snakes and ladders.
. Group gaming with a Wii and Xbox game consoles which can be done on an interactive white board and we can do team games to help them learn to be part of a team in a fun way.
. Trading card games, these will be run at a weekend, mainstream as well as people with learning difficulties will play together, learn from each other and get the chance to take part in national tournaments in our Konami registered Centre.
. Art activities for youngsters in the school holidays.
They will have the opportunity to join in and help run these activities as well as taking part, even thinking up an activity of their own.
We would like to run an “I’m special too” group once a week for mainstream siblings of a youngster with learning difficulties, where they can come together and socialize. It will be like a youth club for them with other youngsters who know what it is like to live with a sibling with difficulties. There will be activities put on for them to join in with, mentors for them to talk to and a quiet area if they want to relax. There will be trained staff at these groups.
It is often difficult for a youngster having a sibling with any disability. They can either feel left out because the parent/carers time is taken up with their disabled sibling or they are quite often expected to do a lot for the disabled sibling and don’t feel like they have a life away from them or special time for themselves.
We would like to hold weekly groups for Adults on the autistic spectrum, there is nothing in our town at present offering this but there are a lot of people needing this service. This group can take part in activities, socialize, get support and advice from our team as well as work experience if they wish.
All regular service users will have an ID card that they will swipe to register they are attending the centre. For the paid up members this will also be a loyalty card where they can gain points by attendance, joining in an activity, helping out and achieving individual goals we set them, ie not disrupting an activity if they are known to usually do that! These points can be redeemed with goods from the café, ie drinks for a smaller number of points and a full meal if they let the points add up.
This will be an area where people can go for advice, support and information by trained members of staff, in a comfortable confidential environment. General office hours are five mornings a week, 11am-2pm, although enquiries will be dealt with at all times the Centre is open. Some of our entertainment will be in this area during afternoons out of office hours. This gives a relaxed environment with limited distractions to achieve the best out of the activity.
6 Resources already in place to support us.
. We have premises to run the social Centre from, we just need finance to make changes so we can offer more to our community.
.We have a letter of consent from the landlord to make the changes and an agreement to extend the else for up to 25 years if we wish.
. We have 26 volunteers ready to support our changes.
. Chair and Vice chair passed their level 2 diplomas in health and social care in 2013.
. Both are trained third party hate Crime officers and Vice chair is trained in Mate crime too.
. The team have had SOVA training in 2013.
. We are registered C-Card holders to administer free condoms to youngsters.
. Two committee members have certificates in interactive storytelling.
. Five members of the team have training in customer services.
. On staff we have several members that have attended workshops in Safeguarding vulnerable adults,
. We have trained health and safety and first aiders on staff working with volunteers and vulnerable adults.
. We have a committee with 9 members willing to support the changes.
. We have trustees in place who are in agreement with the changes.
. People willing to provide, storytelling, discover yourself through art, music, table top games and trading card games.
. We are a registered Konami games Centre so all trading card games will be run in accordance to international Konami rules and regulations.
. We employ an administration worker to keep all paperwork and our affairs in order.
. We have an accountant.
. We are already a registered charity.
. The organization “Life Skills” have agreed to support us with work experience training.
. The local schools and college are very interested in using us for work experience.
. We have policies in place for Safeguarding, child protection, data protection, fire safety and health and hygiene.
.We have a Trade union rep on our committee.
. We have a committee member who has level 3 art diploma.
. A committee member who has NVQ food safety.
. We have a volunteer who has qualifications in photography, we plan to incorporate this in our activities, encouraging people to take photo records of what they are doing and edit them.
7 Resources still required and how it is to be found.
.To progress from a coffee bar to cafe, we need to remove the counter and build a kitchen area. To do this an existing ‘lean to conservatory’ needs to be knocked down and a brick building built to house a new kitchen equipped with kitchen appliances and utensils. We need adequate ventilation.
. We will need a risk assessment done once all building works have been completed and we are ready to reopen.
. We need tables and chairs for customers. Cutlery and crockery, uniforms for staff and work experience people so they learn what it is like to work in a smart environment and have to look after clothing.
. A second toilet to be built.
. Building work to section off part of a room to make a store room for kitchen area, gaming items and a utility room. This area will need shelving and cupboards to house stock and a set of doors to the utility area in that room.
. Existing doors in the above room to be removed from where they’re located, that bricked up then the doors relocating closer to the office room to provide a new fire exit for the rear of the Centre.
. A second lean to conservatory to be knocked down and a brick building built to store shop items as the existing building leaks. This store room needs to contain shelving and cupboards to house the goods.
. The uneven brick weave flooring outside the front of the Centre needs to be dug up and replaced with flat flooring to make it more accessible for wheelchairs.
. The patio at the back needs digging up and replacing to make it a more appealing area for customers to dine and relax as well as making the floor even for wheelchairs.
. The doors at the front of the building to be replaced with automatic doors and brought inline with the window, for easier access for the disabled.
. Shop fittings and till for the shop area.
. A fire alarm system fitted and fire drill training given to staff.
. Adding more cameras to our existing CCTV package so that all areas are covered.
. Blinds for the front of the Centre so service users don’t feel exposed when doing activities as the front of the Centre is mostly glass.
. New signs for the Centre inside and out so people are clear on what the Centre is about.
. A hot water system which will service the whole building as the current one doesn’t.
. Heating in the front room as there is none at this time.
. The front room needs rewiring.
. The internet cables need extending into the back room from the front so we can move our office area there to allow more privacy for people’s needs.
. A hearing loop system fitted throughout the Centre.
To be able to attain these requirements we would like to apply for funding. At this time we fund ourselves with selling items donated to our shop area and coffee bar.
. We also run fundraisers such as raffles, karaoke nights, fundraiser activity days.
. We have participated in bag packing at local supermarkets to raise money.
.Our Chairwoman raises money by singing as well as visiting women’s groups and giving talks about the Centre for a donation.
. Unity Gaming rent space paying £50 per week, they plan to hold fundraising days to earn more money for us.
. We get small monetary donations from local people and organizations.. We have an annual membership which is £10 per year if they want information posted to them or £5 if they want it by email.
. After attaining funding to go ahead with building works and alterations we plan to make money by selling food and drink in the café and items from our shop. We will continue with all fundraisers we currently put on.
We will charge a small fee of £1 for youngsters to partake in activities while parents are in the café.
8 Publicity and marketing
To publicise our venture we will,
. Put an article in our quarterly newsletter telling our members about it. This newsletter is available in a few outlets in town who have service users with learning difficulties as well as being sent to every member on publication.
. We will advertise it on our Facebook page where we have over 1,500 friends,
. We will place an article about us in the local newspaper.
, We will advertise on the local radio.
. Word and mouth will be very valuable advertising.
. We will let the local council know about what we are doing so they can add us to their list of organizations for people with a learning difficulty who want to know where they can go.
. We will publish leaflets with all the information about us on and distribute them to local organizations where the target group we are looking for may go, ie schools, colleges, library, Drs, sports centre.
.Our Chair raises awareness by giving talks to women’s groups as well as singing in the town where she talks and tells people about the Centre.
9 Time table/action plan.
Quotes still needed
2 more for all building work
Shop fitters & new kitchen
Heating & hot water system
Fire alarm system
4 more cameras on existing CCTV
Interactive whiteboard & computers
A hearing loop system installed
Other things needed
Deciding a menu then costing the food needed.
Have risk assessment in place
Extend current lease to at least 10 years.