Learning life skills

10th June 2021

“What an amazing job you all do at Lifesteps. Our son absolutely loves coming every week and he is always welcomed with a great smile from you all.”

LIFESTEPS is a project for young adults aged 18 – 30 with disabilities and learning difficulties. Running from the Kendal Lads and Girls Club on a Monday, it provides a safe space to socialise, learn and develop new skills including those needed for work,  and build on social and independent living skills, while having fun.

Managed by Youth Engagement Service, LIFESTEPS is based around a lunch club where group members come together to make and share a meal for themselves and invited guests. The group also try different crafts, baking, games, and sports, and organise social events. The project received £4,699 from Cumbria Young People’s Fund and Roselands Trust Fund towards staff wages.

The young adults attending have a range of disabilities and learning difficulties which include Downs Syndrome, Autism, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, hearing and sight loss, and many of the group have a mixture of physical and learning difficulties.

Liz Cornford, Secretary, said: “This weekly programme has become a large part of the lives of these young people. It is an opportunity for them to spend time together, be away from home or supported accommodation and take part in a range of activities they have requested. It is the case that for many of the group this maybe the only opportunity for leisure activities or to be independent away from family or carers.”

Earlier last year members worked on a healthy eating course provided by the Open College Network. They received certificates for cooking dinner for 19 people including the course tutor.

Joe, 22, has Down Syndrome and has been attending every week. His mother said: “Joe has improved his independent skills and works as a team. His speech and communication have improved greatly. He is learning about handling money and buys things off a list confidently. He enjoys being around his peers and has made new friends. The staff are fantastic and provide positive support for Joe to encourage him to be the best he can.”

Another parent said: “Kallum has attended for over a year now. The staff are amazing and provide young adults a productive programme to allow them to develop new life skills in which they can put into practice when they live as independently as they can. Kallum is also allocated a weekly diary in which the staff help to communicate with us as our son has little speech. This group is a wonderful place for our son and we only hope this will continue for many years as there is limited facilities.”

During the pandemic when restrictions allowed, sessions were mostly held outdoors until the weather became cold and wet.

Liz continues: “Staff have worked hard to give the young adults a place to go which was important for their mental health and morale during this difficult time. In some cases, this was one to one and for others, small bubbles of two or three worked well as then the members could spend time with each other outside of the home rather than feeling isolated and anxious.”