Valuing friends, families and neighbourhoods is a very important aspect of the new MacIntyre DNA, which has been adopted in many different ways within our organisation. As always, MacIntyre focuses on bringing everyone together and being an integral part of all things community led. The aim is to bring people together within our friendship groups, Memory Cafes, Community Roasts, Family groups etc and support people to spend time with each other in a fun and safe environment.
Molly (who is part of MacIntyre's Great Communities project in Warrington) launched her ‘Friendship Group’ in 2018 as a way of combating social isolation among people with learning disabilities and autism in the town.
The Friendship Group began as a way for Molly to make new friends and connect with other people who find it difficult to form new relationships. Molly's bravery and desire to reach out to others in a similar situation, despite her initial anxiety, are admirable.
Since then the group has grown in connections and friendships and, although there have been difficult periods, including through the pandemic, Molly ensured that The Friendship Group continued during lockdown via Zoom. The transition to an online space enabled many more new members to join while also encouraging existing members to improve their digital skills.
With restrictions being eased, the group were able to introduce the first (of many) ‘Walk and Talk Friendship Group’, face to face sessions at the Blooming Art studio in April this year and most recently enjoyed a fun bowling trip at Super Bowl in Golden Square.
Working with parents, carers and families is at the heart of our approach to supporting children, young people and adults with a learning disability and/or autism to live a life that makes sense to them.
Our recent events exemplify our continuous efforts to achieve that vision:
A few days into the new month and the latest MacIntyre Families Podcast has already been released. Nicola Payne (MacIntyre’s Best Practice Manager) was in conversation with Gary Bourlet from Learning Disability England, where they spoke about the Good Lives framework and how Gary started the People First movement here in the UK.
In addition, last week Nicola hosted MacIntyre’s monthly national family meeting ‘Let’s Come Together’. It was an opportunity for families and carers of people who draw on our support to hear from MacIntyre about what we are doing, and plan to do, around working with families (including the launch of MacIntyre’s newly revised DNA), and also an opportunity for families to express how they are feeling to help us to see where there are trends and where extra support or advice may be needed.
The aim of the Memory Café was to look outward and bring people together. We decided we wanted to do more than just "provide a commissioned service"; we wanted to be a part of the local community and for people who draw on our support to do the same. We realised after talking to people that our neighbours and neighbourhoods have the potential to make people feel more inclusive.
This was evident in the success of our recent Memory Cafés in Warrington, Chesterfield and most recently in Flackwell Heath.
The MacIntyre Memory Cafés offer a fun, welcoming and relaxing environment for people to take part in social activities, make new friends and enjoy fantastic cake and cups of tea and coffee.
From cakes/tray bakes, refreshments and other treats donated from the homemade cake company, Tesco and Sainsbury's, to the fabulous Community Inspire Choir performing with the people who draw on our support, every part of the community were involved. This is an event that is always open to everyone, providing an opportunity to relax and join in activities in a safe and friendly environment.
One of the next Memory Cafés includes the return of the Milton Keynes Memory Café taking place on Tuesday 13th September in Moot Hall, Great Holm. More information to come very soon!