At Lycetts, we’re committed to making a difference, not only in the way we conduct business, but in the way we help change lives. We believe in helping individuals and communities less fortunate than ourselves. As part of our Diamond Anniversary celebrations we will be focussing on one charity each month whose work we admire and sharing with you who they are, who they help and what they do.
Our first chosen charity is the Learning for Life Charity which is a newly formed and growing charity that aims to provide ‘Learning for Life’ opportunities for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. Marie Matthewson is the Principal and Head of Services at the charity and here she tells us more about their work.
Can you please give us a brief overview of what your charity does and who it supports?
Learning for Life provides education and social care for individuals whom are 16 years or older with special educational needs and disabilities. They provide a range of fun and stimulating accredited and non-accredited courses which are bespoke to each individuals needs with a personalised approach to learning which encourages building confidence, enabling communication, fulfilling aspirations and promoting individual choice all whilst focusing on the Government’s ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ agenda which includes employment, independent living, friends, relationships and community and good health.
Where are you based?
We are currently based in Consett but we will be providing education at Disability North in Newcastle from September 2021.
How has the support provided by Lycetts helped you?
One of our biggest challenges is securing work experience opportunities. Lycetts has enabled one of our Learners (Christopher Adams) to gain valuable work experience since October 2018. This opportunity has enabled Christopher to work alongside the staff at Lycetts which has provided a number of significant benefits. His confidence has increased, he has learnt new skills and has job satisfaction in abundance. This placement has been hugely beneficial to Christopher and has also empowered his peers at college who look forward to their own work experience. This academic year Christopher continues to study employability skills at college and looks forward to returning to Lycetts when it is safe to do so.
Lycetts have been extremely generous to Learning for Life. We have received donations in line with the amount Christopher would have earned and in turn Christopher has been rewarded for all of his good work. In addition, several of Lycetts teams have continued to support us through various fund-raising initiatives. One of the staff members from Lycetts, Robyn Gerencser, went the extra mile and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on 18th July 2019 and raised £3350.00 through her Just Giving Page. We are extremely grateful to all those at Lycetts for their continued support.
How much have you been impacted by Covid-19?
We have managed to remain open for learners. All of our learners have an Education Health and Care Plan or a social worker which means we are classed as key workers.
We worked with Quality Compliance Systems (QCS) the Local Authority, Public Health England and Infection Control to have COVID 19 policies in place. We wrote a contingency plan from the information and resources we received. We also liaised with our partner East Durham College who were invaluable during this process.
Early in the pandemic we were advised we may be redeployed due to many learners not attending initially, we all completed training and were given a great deal of guidance from Durham County Council.
Staff have been wonderful and have worked extremely hard to ensure the strict standards set by Public Health England are adhered to. We all wear clinical PPE and learners are offered it to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19.
What are you future hopes and aims for your charity?
We aim to amalgamate our services in Consett County Durham by providing 2 more classrooms at the Herbert Street site by September 2021 and also we aim to expand into Newcastle in September 2021 for Education learners, then hopefully we will also provide Social Care at Newcastle too in the future.
We aim to get our young people into the workplace for work experience which hopefully will lead to employment in the future.
What do the individuals that you have helped have to say about Learning for Life?
We provide bespoke education and social care, where our learners are given the most enriching and rewarding experience possible. This is what people have said;-
“There are lots of things I like about College, but I really enjoy doing cookery and PE. I also love going to the yearly Prom and my work experience every Friday in Newcastle”. G.C. Adams, Learner
“The best part about Learning for Life is the arts and crafts and coming to see my friends. I have enjoyed the allotment and writing about interesting projects”. Nicole Marsden, Learner
“Working at Learning for Life has given me a confidence that I never knew I had. It gives me a thrill to know that I am making a difference to the lives of our learners”. Joseph McElderry, Staff member. (Joseph has Asperger’s Syndrome and is now employed by us. He is supported through Access to Work).
STAFF MEMBER – making the Halloween video
‘I have never had so much fun in all my life shooting this video. I know for a fact that learners really enjoyed it too!’ Lisa Kelly. Staff member.
Describe the most memorable / funniest moment / most unusual fund raising activity during a sponsored event?
We were lucky enough to receive funding from Karbon Homes to make a video for Halloween and have a socially distanced party. The fun learners and staff had during the filming was truly fabulous – there were so many funny moments during the making of the video – please see the ‘out-takes video at https://fb.watch/2-PnY6sua8/
A passer-by nearly fell over during the filming – I do not think they could quite believe what they were seeing!
The manager of Social Care was often in hysterics during the filming – so much laughter could be heard which was strange as the scenes were horrendous (staff who did the make-up were truly amazing). ‘We literally ‘hooowwwwlllled’ making the video. Our neighbours watched the antics of Learners, staff and Directors running around the streets in werewolf and Zombie costumes’. Alison Thornton.
How can people find out more about your work?
The landline is 01207 509936, the email is email@example.com or you could contact us on our digital media platforms: