A celebratory event which included a signed singing performance launched the new Dudley Disability Service this week.
The new service will support people of all ages with physical or learning disabilities, special educational needs or autism. It’s a joint project between Dudley Council and partner agencies including voluntary groups Dudley Voices for Choice and Dudley Parent Carer Forum.
The Dudley Disability Service is an all age disability service which supports children, young people and adults with disabilities or special educational needs living in Dudley borough. It supports them in aiming to achieve full and happy lives, helping them to become independent through gaining skills, knowledge and confidence.
This vision for the service was co-produced by the Dudley Parent Carers Forum. People with disabilities and autism, and their parents and carers, have been involved in the development of the service through the Parent Carers Forum, an independent group of parent carers of children and young people aged 0-25 years, with disabilities and additional needs and Dudley Voices for Choice, a user led charity that supports people with learning disabilities and autism to speak up for themselves.
The Dudley Disability Service launched at a packed event at Dudley College earlier this week and included speakers from the local authority as well as motivational guest speaker, Blind Dave Heeley.
Customers from the Unicorn Centre, a local authority day service based in Amblecote, which provides support for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and complex health needs also performed at the launch. They performed two songs using Makaton signs, alongside pupils from the Brook Primary School and invited the audience to join in with the encore of one of the songs. The Sing and Sign group meet on a weekly basis at the Unicorn Centre and take part in a Makaton sing and sign session. The group have been joined regularly for the past three years by Year 5 children from Brook Primary School who spend time with them, getting to know one another and learning to sign together.
The event also featured the unveiling of artwork created by customers of the Unicorn Centre ‘Pieces of My Life’ which encapsulates what is important to people who attend the service. The artwork is made up of jigsaw pieces. The centre piece is representative of each customer and recognises both their individuality and that they are part of their local community. The other pieces, whilst representing activities that are important to people such as music therapy, also demonstrates that their service is tailored to meet their individual needs. The artwork also included what is important to them. The finished piece will go on display in a central location at the Unicorn.
The event ended with a performance by the Halas Homes Dance Group, which performed three dances to popular songs. Halas Homes provides respite care, residential care, day activities (at The Meeting Place) and supported living for people with learning disabilities in Halesowen and the surrounding area.
Dudley Disability Service offers a range of care and support services, as well as signposting to enable people with disabilities or special educational needs, to live as independent and fulfilling lives as possible.
More importantly, the service works in partnership with each person to ensure that it meets the needs, desires and aspirations of them at an individual level, catering for their needs in the way they want.
People using the service can access support including day services, family centres, technology enabled support, assisted living, residential care and respite care, employment support, health visiting and school nurse support.
Practical matters such as housing support can also be provided; and carers are not forgotten either, with access to the carers health and wellbeing service also provided. The service works closely with the voluntary and community sector, sharing skills to provide the best services available to users.
Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for adult social care, said:
The launch event was an absolute delight. The Sing and Sign performance by users of the Unicorn Centre and children from Brook Primary really set the tone for the event.
Dave Heeley’s talk was truly inspiring and the unveiling of the artwork, with it’s emphasis on the needs and interests of the users, further drove home the message of the service and its focus on helping people to live their lives as fully, happily and independently as possible.
Diane Baker, Dudley Voices for Choice said:
It was good to see so many people at the launch, I think the new service will be good for Dudley and the people who need the service