Skills for life

This group of 10 learners from Freedom Support Solutions joined the WEA 1 Click Project for Learning Difficulties and Disabilities. The day centre services aim to improve confidence for life and work. During lockdown, WEA tutors taught courses online, which helped alleviate anxiety during this period of uncertainty. They have developed independent living skills and become active members of their families and communities.

The WEA tutors have been fabulous to work with. They listen to what works best and bring lots of ideas too. It’s a proper partnership.

The Freedom Support Training Academy offers a variety of course, experiences and activities for young people and adults with learning disabilities and additional support needs. Our ethos is to offer day centre activities that students might not get with traditional social services. WEA tutors lay on a range of different courses for our service-users, including cookery, arts and crafts, pottery, bushcraft, storytelling and drama. 

When lockdown came, the WEA was able to continue the ‘Cooking for Health’ group with 10 of our learners. Before, courses were held face-to-face in the Academy kitchen with everything weighed out alongside individual rolling pins, bowls, utensils etc. But now the menus and ingredients need to be sent out in advance or delivered by hand for those who can’t get online. There is a huge amount of work goes into that. 

Our students have learned independent living skills such as cooking a healthy meal following a recipe, the principles of basic health and hygiene and how to use kitchen equipment safely. 

Support workers and families of students have reported reduced resistance to communicate, improved mood and behaviour. This has made students more willing to be contribute to everyday life activities – shopping and making meals, setting the table and participating in activities such as daily walks and trips to the allotment. 

Freedom Support Training Academy Director, Marie Norman, spoke on behalf of the students,

“The last year has been a roller coaster, but we’ve done a lot of good work together with the WEA. The fact we’ve managed to continue the courses is such a boost for our learners. Of course, it’s not the same as meeting their friends in person, but it has made a huge difference to our service-users.” 

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