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Goodbye to our beloved Step On project

Step On was a, WCVA ESF Active Inclusion funded project operating in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, specifically working with those aged 18-24 with a work limiting health condition and currently not in employment, training or education.

At the end of September 2022, we closed the doors on what has been an incredibly uplifting and fun project for us at Innovate Trust, despite it running over the strangest 3 years in modern times!

We are extremely proud of the outcomes that we created together and the participants involved, despite the many barriers we encountered. As the project has now come to an end, we wanted to share with you what we achieved in the past three years.

Step On before Covid-19

In September 2019, things looked very different for Step On and Innovate Trust as a whole. We had no idea what was around the corner, and enjoyed hosting and participating in fun-filled activities and positivity. It seemed like opportunities were everywhere for the people we support.

Our first round of participants were involved in an 8-week programme focusing on ‘Skills for Independence’. We hosted engaging workshops and activities each week for the group to take part in covering a wide variety of topics such as;

  • Confidence Building
  • Money Management
  • Healthy Living & Well-Being
  • Team Building
  • CV Writing and;
  • Interview Skills.

Most of our Step On participants also took time to volunteer at our regular beach cleans in Porthcawl & Barry Island over the busy summer season. We began working closely with Coney Surf School and Keep Wales Tidy. It soon became a very popular and positive activity.

Alongside the beach cleaning, we developed informative workshops for our participants that were both interested and concerned about the rising levels of plastic pollution.

We also had guest speakers from Learning Disability Wales’ Gig Buddies programme and local financial advocacy group, The Friendly Trust to let us know how we can access their support.

Our structured weekly approach allowed the space for our Step On participants to meet people and to make new friends. It also assisted them to learn a familiar bus route and practise their time keeping. It all seemed like a magic mix. Our first sessions were running smoothly. We already had a full round 2 class ready to start April 2020.

Then the pandemic hit, and we all know what happened next…

The First Lockdown

The next 6 months became an unprecedented complete change and challenge. We are incredibly proud of how our Skills and Wellbeing Team came together to keep the project running. So much of what we had covered in our sessions seemed irrelevant as opportunities became non-existent through lockdowns, but we continued to adapt those topics into online sessions with added content focusing on staying connected, staying calm and remaining positive.

We encouraged participants to sign up to our Insight app, a social media platform for people with learning disabilities. Insight became the central point for online activities. It ensured participants remained involved in previously in-person projects and allowed them to keep meeting new friends and share experiences.

Outcomes and Achievements

As life began to get back to ‘normal’, we went from strength to strength. We had a steady flow of new recruits and of positive outcomes. Below is a summary what some of the people we have supported throughout the project have achieved:

  • 57 young people have engaged in the project, each having a bespoke experience, focusing on their individual personalities and aspirations.
  • Supported people to achieve part-accredited qualifications through various Agored Cymru units from Building Confidence & Self Esteem to Overcoming Barriers to Employment, and Resilience and Health & Wellbeing.
  • Delivered work-relevant certificates either in person or online from Manual Handling to Health & Safety, First Aid, Internet Safety and more.
  • Encouraged all participants to take advantage of the numerous conservation projects that we run, including Boosting Nature, Porthkerry Park Project, Take Charge, and The Secret Garden at St Fagans.
  • A number of people have become regular volunteers at Innovate Trust. The improvement in their health and well-being from time spent outside in nature has been amazing to see.
  • We have enjoyed working with local accessible cycling charity Pedal Power to get everyone outside and active during our warm summer of 2022.
  • Supported 4 people into paid employment in Retail and Security roles.
  • Supported 6 people into further education in both Cardiff & Vale College and Bridgend spanning subjects such as ‘Skills For Life’, Floristry, and Electrical Engineering.
  • Supported 15 people into local volunteering roles within National Museum Cardiff, Chapter Arts Centre, and many environmental conservation roles.

There have been so many positive outcomes, too many to list, but it is safe to say we are incredibly proud of all the young people we have been lucky enough to work with.

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