|A SUNDERLAND charity working with disabled children and their families is to extend its support to include more young adults.
Since it opened in 2003, Southwick-based Grace House had enriched the lives of young people with disabilities and complex needs – and their families. Now the charity is set to extend the age range of people it supports beyond the current limit of 25 years of age.
Victoria Brown, Grace House’s CEO, explained: “We’re proud to deliver our life-enhancing services to children and young people, but after the age of 25 there’s long been a gap. There are services available in the area for disabled people in their later years, but people in their 20s and 30s do not particularly want to attend lunch clubs and other services aimed at older people – they want to interact with people their own age.
“We’ve been talking for a while about what comes next for the young people we support, so are launching Grace House Graduates, which is aimed at those aged 25 or older, many of whom we’re already working.”
In practical terms this will involve three main areas of focus: providing more opportunities for social interaction; working to improve the life skills of young adults, and providing more opportunities for young adults to gain work experience opportunities.
Victoria added: “We’ve been listening to what young adults would like to do, and their feedback, and that of families, will help shape Grace House Graduates. We’ve been providing works experience opportunities here at Grace House for instance – and other places such as The Bunker – but we know this is a priority for our young adults so are planning to extend what we do.”
Grace House Graduates has been set up as a separate charity, with a governance structure of its own.
Existing Grace House trustees Neil Henry, Simon Briton, Vicky Norman and Victoria have been joined by John Longford, a financial adviser who works for Sunderland wealth management company Northern Spire.
John said: “I’m delighted to have joined the board of trustees at Grace House Graduates – I was introduced to the brilliant work Grace House does by Northern Spire MD David Cook, who used to be Chair of trustees at the charity.
“I knew the Grace House building as my nana lived nearby, but didn’t know about the services the charity provides.
“I’ve since helped raise money for them through things like golf days and the Three Peaks Challenge, and I’m really pleased to be more involved and to be able to help the charity as a trustee.
“What Grace House Graduates aims to do is help young people into adulthood, supporting them to live more independent lives. The service we will be providing is much needed and will make a genuine difference to so many lives.
Victoria said: “This is the next step in the Grace House journey and in order to provide the right level of service and support we will be recruiting new members of our team. We’ll also be training current members of staff so they have the skills needed to work with older people.
“During the first 18 months of Grace House Graduates we’ll be focusing on life skills and extending our work experience offer. We’re working on a programme of activity now and will primarily focus on Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, but we’ll listen to what our graduates want, and respond to their needs.”
For more information on Grace House, go to www.gracehouse.co.uk
For more on Northern Spire, go to www.sjpp.co.uk/northernspire