Please tell us what you do and how it makes a difference in the community?
Our charity is about breaking down barriers and fighting for the inclusion of all. Our volunteers may have learning disabilities/autism/mental health needs this makes no difference. All volunteers are given tasks that they can do and more importantly like doing giving everyone a purpose.
How has this award made you and your volunteers feel?
This award has shown that there is real value in the roles that our volunteers play, whether that be advocating for their peers, training professionals or celebrating differences.
When the news was shared there was a lot of “Really, I can’t believe it” comments and lots of questions about how the Queen knew what we did. Along with of course how are we going to celebrate our award.
How are you going to celebrate this amazing success?
PARTY!!!! As soon as Covid 19 lockdown allows us too. We have already shared widely on social media and by local media.
Do you think this award will have an impact on the work of your organisation going forward? Will it change anything?
It already has our volunteers feel even more valued and their confidence has grown overnight. Their voices are getting heard all across the country with the support of social media which is fantastic.
Has your team faced any challenges, had to work differently, or offer new services in the current Covid-19 Pandemic?
During the pandemic we have worked very differently, this has included setting up online focus groups, supporting people to use technology and social media platforms and doing welfare checks every few days to make sure everyone has spoke to somebody avoiding social isolation and getting support when they need it most.
Discover U is a charity based in Wollaston working to help people with barriers into employment. Our aim is to provide work related experience to adults with any level of learning disability or others similarly disadvantaged because of physical disability. We believe that everybody who wants to should have the opportunity to work and we support them to do that with a range of programmes suited to enhance their skills. We operate a Workshop and Tea Room in Wollaston enabling us to connect with our local community and provide a warm and friendly environment for people to come.
As a relatively young charity, founded in August 2015, the whole team is absolutely delighted and so proud that Discover U is in receipt of such as prestigious award. The award is particularly poignant for us following the recent passing of Lynn Brooks, co-founder and our much loved, longest serving volunteer, to whom we dedicate the award.
It’s a wonderful acknowledgement of the amazing work our team do every day and the effort that has been put in over the last 5 years. We’re looking forward to flying the QAVS flag and certainly want to have a big celebration with all our team and our members as soon as it is safe to do so.
We think this award will really help promote our work and raise interest with our wider community. While our centre is currently closed we are taking some time to perfect our services, skills and redecorate to create an even more exciting environment for our members, staff, volunteers and visitors. Really hope you’ll come see it all soon!
It has been difficult during the pandemic as we work so closely together and any form of social distancing poses an immense challenge as it does for so many charities and service providers. Prior to lockdown we distributed leaflets around the local area to let people know we were there to support anyone that needed it and have continued doing this, providing shopping and medicine runs for isolated people in the local community. Staff and volunteers have been working from home, providing phone support for all members and volunteers and their families. They have been checking in on a regular basis to ensure everyone is doing ok and helping people stay in touch with each other too. They have also on their daily walks been dropping off gifts, craft goody bags, Easter eggs, and even handwritten letters to bring smiles to as many faces as possible. Our staff are also providing off site support for those members and their families that are struggling with the current situation. Taking members shopping, out for walks to local beauty spots for exercise, even running errands etc to safeguard their mental and physical well-being as well as give much needed support to their families. I’m so proud, to say the least, with how the team have stepped up to challenge and made so much happen in such restrictive circumstances.
This recognition of our services in the borough by the Queen has shown that even in the most difficult of times when small groups and communities pull together they can achieve anything.