Open days are being hosted throughout England and Wales by the country’s third largest private care provider with the aim of boosting community integration for people with learning disabilities, mental health and acquired brain injury.
Across the UK residential and supported living services run by the Regard Group are opening their doors to participate in specially-devised events with the common theme of ‘Linking Communities’.
Carole Edmond, CEO of Regard, said: “Community involvement is so important to the people we support.
“The aim of our open days is to extend their network of friendship, because this translates into real day-to-day involvement and participation, and promotes their ability to live their lives to the full.
“Social contact with people outside their immediate home, and involvement in the life of the local community, can have a profound effect on a person’s overall psychological well-being.
“It also enables the people we support to be more visible and have their voices heard, which is a fundamental right for us all.”
The organisers of Regard’s open days have been inviting friends, neighbours, local businesses, church congregations, and shop-keepers, as well as family members and people who live at other local residential and supported living services, to ensure everyone is aware of the warm welcome that awaits them.
People who live at the services are very much involved in the planning of and preparation for the open days, and also have the pleasure of showing their families and other visitors around their home, as well as engaging in interactive games with them – indoors and out - plus sharing food, music and conversation.
At Merrington Grange in Shrewsbury, where visitors were given bird houses to paint - in addition to garden games and a disco in the sensory room - one of the guests enjoyed his day so much that he plans to move into the service next month.
Meanwhile at Douglas House in Plymouth open day guests included representatives from community agency Arterne, whose moving talk about the work they do with the homeless inspired the people who live at the service to adopt this as their fundraising cause for Christmas this year.
And at Town Farm Workshop in Sixpenny Handley, Dorset, the open day celebrated volunteering in the local community, with special guest Nicola Whitehead from Dorset Volunteer Centre sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm on volunteering, and the ‘Community Credits Scheme.’
Carole Edmond said: “Many of the people we support undertake regular volunteer work in the community, and others – whole services in many cases – get involved in fundraising to benefit their local community.
“They have a real sense of achievement when they contribute to, say, the refurbishment of a new clock front for the local church, as the people who we support at Mill House in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, did through the raffle they held on their open day.
“Helping and working with othersgives people an important sense of ownership in their local community, so we try to ensure that everyone we support has the opportunity to be involved in volunteering or charity fundraising.”
Regard Group supports more than 1,300 people, with a dedicated staff of over 2,600 people on 163 sites across the UK. FFI see www.regard.co.uk