Charity workers’ challenge for people with learning disabilities

A team of dedicated charity workers are preparing to put their best foot forward for a 45-mile coast to coast walk to fund a new creative space for the people they support.

Hoping to raise £10,000, the ten-strong team from Hft, a national charity supporting adults with learning disabilities, will hike from Saltburn by the Sea to Filey Beach over the course of two days.

The group is headed up by area manager Ryan Trueman, who has worked at the charity for four years. The 36-year-old was inspired to organise the fundraising challenge in the hope of raising enough money to build a ‘Smart Hub’ for people with supported by Hft in Bradford.

The new space will encompass a range of technologies and aims to build create an immersive environment and build technical skills for people with learning disabilities to engage with.

After setting off on July 8, Ryan and his team will spend two days walking along the coast, covering 45 miles of the renowned Cleveland Way trail.

Passing through fishing villages and along the Yorkshire coastline, the route includes numerous steep inclines and is estimated to take around 18 hours to complete.

The team, which consists of three managers and six hub leaders, are no strangers to fundraising challenges and have previously climbed the three highest peaks in the UK to raise money for Hft.

They’re currently hard at work training for the challenge ahead and are being cheered on by people supported at Hft services in Bradford, who are planning their own local walks to coincide with the team’s challenge.

All funds raised will go towards converting a building already in use by Hft into a multipurpose Smart Hub. Designed to support 20 people as part of the charity’s provision of day opportunities in Bradford, the new space will provide accessible devices and enable people to build their technical skills, enjoy a creative and sensory environment, and use technology to maximise choice and engagement.

The ambitious project aims to support a wide range of needs and interests, and will feature a specialist communication station with talking tiles and support for non-verbal people, as well as a kitchen area with assistive technology, a sensory exploration space where people can reduce anxiety levels, and even a gaming room, where people can access new hobbies and potential interests such as driving and e-sports.

Earlier this year, Hft released its Sector Pulse Check research, which provides a snapshot of the financial health of the sector and an insight into the challenges facing social care providers over the last twelve months.

This year’s report highlighted digital barriers, and that while nearly all providers surveyed (98%) had made extra efforts to keep people they support connected during the pandemic, three out of four providers (77%) cited a lack of digital skills among those they support as a large barrier.

Ryan Trueman said: ‘I’m really excited to be taking on this challenge, which will see us exploring North Yorkshire to raise money for a project close to all of our hearts.

‘We’re all busy training at the moment to ensure we’re in great shape for July and prepared for any challenges the trek throws at us, whether that’s difficult weather conditions or steep climbs!

‘The last year has demonstrated to all of us the importance of technology, and how critical it is to keeping people connected with their loved ones.

‘We’re hoping that the Smart Hub will boost the digital skills of people we support, helping us get one step closer to bridging a digital divide often felt by people with learning disabilities.

‘The people we support will be inspiring us every step of the way, and we’re so excited to see them enjoying the Smart Hub in the not too distant future.’

Emma Macdonald, sports and challenge events fundraising manager, said: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to see Ryan and his amazing team taking on this epic challenge.

‘As well as providing critical support to people with learning disabilities over the course of a really difficult year, the team are now going above and beyond to raise funds for a project that is set to provide vital resources to people we support, allowing them to develop new skills and enjoy a stimulating new environment.

‘We’re wishing the team all the luck in the world.’

Photo Credit – Hft


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