SweetTree Home Care Services hosted a launch event in North London on Wednesday (22 February 2007) to officially open their new Learning Disabilities Service. Health and social care professionals gathered to listen to representatives from SweetTree, Mencap and learning disability dating agency Stars in the Sky.
SweetTree’s philosophy is about person centred support which enables people with a learning disability to lead independent lives. Yesterday’s event was a celebration of people’s achievements and a chance to share experiences.
Health and social care professionals gathered in North London to listen to talks from SweetTree, Royal Mencap Society and Stars in the Sky, about the problems facing individuals with Learning Disabilities in society and the many ways in which we can help to overcome them.
Speakers from Royal Mencap Society, Laura Morelli and Candice Wallman, explained Mencap’s development over the years in the run up to their 60th birthday celebrations. Laura talked specifically about how Mencap has helped her and the great deal of work she is doing with their support.
She said: “Mencap has helped me to develop into the person I am today. The work I do is to help others like myself become a valued member of society and become involved in projects that Mencap work on and give those with learning disabilities a voice.”
Candice Wallman who works with Royal Mencap said she particularly enjoyed the afternoon as events like this enable her to work with people like Laura, who really make a difference and change people’s perceptions. Royal Mencap Society are particularly keen to create greater awareness of their campaigns such as Changing Places toilets and In Control. Candice and Laura highlighted in their speech that nationally 1 in 2 people with a disability in Britain are employed, but only 1 in 10 people with learning disabilities have a job. The figures speak for themselves as to the work that needs to be done.
The fascinating historical perspective from Mencap was then followed by some light hearted entertainment from two ladies who took to the stage announcing themselves as, “The Cheeky Girls”! Lolita Jones and Pauline Geipel are the directors of a dating and friendship agency for adults with Learning Disabilities called, Stars in the Sky. Now famous, after a Channel 4 followed their progress in a documentary, Lolita and Pauline explained the work they do and the impact their jobs have had on Stars in the Sky and their personal lives.
Lolita explained “I wanted to set up this agency as lots of my friends, like Pauline, are married and I wanted someone too. Before the documentary aired I was contacted by a man called Ray, and we are now having our engagement party on 21st April this year.”
The BBC now wants to follow their story and the lead up to Lolita’s wedding, and in true cheeky girl fashion she is hoping they will finance her hen night! With over 300 people now signed up to Stars in the Sky, their service is going from strength to strength and Pauline and Lolita’s match-making is finally paying off.
Lolita and Pauline’s ‘cheeky’ attitude mirrors SweetTree’s approach to their new service, which focuses on assisting service users to live life to the full, and most importantly, have fun!
Dela Begum, the manager of SweetTree’s Learning Disabilities Service and the event organiser said: “It truly was a great success. I don’t think there is a single person who left without learning something they never knew before, and the speakers did a fantastic job in highlighting the key issues that those with learning disabilities face everyday.
Our new service is now up and running and I can’t wait to begin working with some of those who attended yesterday. We are also looking to organise other events so watch this space!”
The evening finished with some delightful nibbles and the mixing of SweetTree support workers, healthcare professionals and staff. Recheal Osagu, a SweetTree Support Worker who also gave a very touching speech, and said: “It has been a wonderful afternoon and great to get to meet so many interesting people. I have worked for SweetTree for a year and a half now, and they treat both staff and clients with a great deal of respect. This is their first event and I hope they have many more!”
For more information on SweetTree’s Learning Disability Service please contact Dela Begum on 020 7624 9944 or visit www.sweettree.co.uk
Notes to editors
If you would like more images or information on the launch, the service or those that spoke there please contact Daisy Upton at SweetTree Home Care Services on 0207 624 9944 or 07920 819 360. Case studies and interviews are also available through Daisy at any time.
For information about learning disability issues please call the Learning Disability Helpline (England) on 0808 808 1111 or visit www.askmencap.info
- SweetTree’s highly trained staff can provide care and support to elderly and disabled individuals living in their own homes. SweetTree also provides more specialist support to people with dementia, physical disabilities, learning disabilities and brain injuries.
- SweetTree is based in North London and provides care for people throughout greater London
- SweetTree Home Care services has been providing high quality home care for five years
- SweetTree Home Care Services work closely with registered charity Jewish Care
- The website is www.sweettree.co.uk
SweetTree Home Care Services
4&5 Coleridge Gardens
Phone: 020 7624 9944
Fax: 020 7624 9955
Mobile: 07920 819 360