KENDAL based charity The Oaklea Trust is once again leading the way in the provision of care and support for disabled, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the community after being awarded ‘A List’ status by Cumbria County Council.
Cumbria County Council invited providers with relevant skills and experience to tender for appointment to ‘framework agreements’ for community support services for each district throughout the county - Allerdale, Copeland, Carlisle, Eden, South Lakes and Barrow
Clive Wigley, Chief Executive at The Oaklea Trust, explains further:
"It’s no secret that the way social care is provided by local authorities is undergoing quite radical changes and Cumbria is no different from other counties in having to procure it’s community support in a new way with framework agreements.”
"The Oaklea Trust tendered to be an approved provider for services throughout Cumbria and, much to our delight, we have been awarded ‘A List’ status for every district in the county.”
To bring this into context, community support covers a broad spectrum of customer groups, including:
• those at risk from domestic violence
• homeless people (both families and individuals)
• mental health
• substance misuse
• young people
• teenage parents
Each of these customer groups has just three ‘A List’ providers under the new structure, with The Oaklea Trust listed in this top three for each category.
In addition, Oaklea have also been awarded ‘A List’ status for Support at Home (help and services provided to someone in their own home, to improve their quality of life and support them to stay independent) and Generic Floating Support Services for each Cumbrian district.
Oaklea are the only organisation to have been awarded this approved status across all regions and the customer groups listed above, and shall be working closely in partnership with other ‘A List’ providers to deliver their care services.
Clive Wigley continues, “Being awarded this status across so many care sectors and geographical regions is an amazing achievement for Oaklea. This is massive boost for everyone associated with the organisation and demonstrates our high levels of care and support with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community is recognised by the awarding authorities.
It also shows confidence that The Oaklea Trust have the experience and professional resources to deliver this full range of specialist services.”
The award is also good news for employment in Cumbria as The Oaklea Trust will be embarking upon a recruitment campaign at the start of the New Year, with an anticipated 50 new jobs being created almost immediately throughout Cumbria.
"The status announcement by Cumbria County Council means that we are actively seeking people who have experience of working in the care sector as well as those completely new to the industry.” adds Sue Green, Director at The Oaklea Trust.
“There will be a diverse number of roles available, with most positions as ‘Lifestyle Coordinators’ who directly provide the care and support to our customers; all are a great career opportunity to work with an established, progressive company with a growing reputation.”
The announcement caps-off a quite remarkable year for The Oaklea Trust.
2011 was the 21st anniversary for the organisation which was established in 1990 as a joint project with parents and individuals with learning disabilities, a local authority and a housing association in order to meet local needs.
The Oaklea Group are also behind Right2Work, the social enterprise initiative which has taken over the bulky household collection and recycling service previously operated by South Lakeland District Council.
More recently, in November Oaklea hosted a charity ball at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal in aid of Wishlist, a foundation they set up to provide funds for disabled and disadvantaged children and adults. The event raised a sum in excess of £13,000.
KENDAL based charity The Oaklea Trust celebrated their 21st anniversary in style on Friday 18th November with a glitzy fundraising ball held at The Castle Green Hotel, Kendal, which has raised over £13,000.
The ball was the first such high profile event to be organised by The Oaklea Trust, a charity which helps disabled and disadvantaged children and adults, and was attended by over 200 guests who travelled from all over the North of England.
Sue Green, Director at The Oaklea Trust, tells us more: “The interest in the Wishlist Ball was really amazing, especially from the local business community around Kendal. Invitations were sent out at the start of the year and we were quickly up to capacity and had to establish a ‘reserve list’ for those eager to take up any spare places.”
"Wishlist is a foundation established by The Oaklea Trust to which people can apply for funds to help make dreams come true." continues Sue, "Quite often, even a modest amount can make an enormous impact to someone’s life; from a specially adapted laptop to an away-day at the seaside which allows a family some quality time together, Wishlist helps with some of the simple requests that can make everyday life a little more bearable."
Trustees and friends of The Oaklea Trust took the lead role in the planning and organisation of the Wishlist Ball which included a champagne reception and entertainment throughout the magical evening.
Highlights of the evening included an auction with a superb array of prizes and unique experiences available the highest bidders, plus a ‘glass slipper’ draw at midnight which saw a lucky guest taking home an exclusive Baccarat necklace.
"The Ball was also a great opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years and we’re certain everyone had a wonderful time." concludes Sue, "Being able to highlight such a worthy cause and show how every penny we raise goes towards improving the quality of life for disabled children and adults, then all the hard work has been well worth it."
A Consett-based provider of care and support for disabled and disadvantaged people in the community has reason to celebrate after receiving a glowing report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The Oaklea Trust, whose North East office is based at the Derwentside Business Centre, Villa Real, underwent a comprehensive review form the CQC in April. The review, which looks in-depth at key areas of the services provided, as Oaklea Trust Director Sue Green explains:
“The CQC are the independent regulator of social care and health services in England, both for the NHS and also independent providers like ourselves.”
“The Oaklea Trust care for young adults up to senior citizens in the community, providing support for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals including those with mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities.”
The review looked into the very heart of the care provision and services of The Oaklea Trust, the people who work for the organisation and the people they support, with key outcomes in:
• Respecting and involving people who use services;
• The care and welfare of the people who are cared for;
• The safeguarding of customers from abuse;
• Assessing and monitoring the quality of the services provided.
Some key results, outcomes of talking to Oaklea’s customers, showed that the organisation encouraged the people they support to stay healthy, to take part in their local community and that employees of The Oaklea Trust genuinely listened and responded to requests, concerns or complaints.
“We proudly state that ‘the customer is at the heart of everything we do’ and the CQC review demonstrates that these aren’t just words – we practice this person-centred approach every single day.”
“Any organisation being subjected to such an in-depth and rigorous appraisal would naturally expect their to be some feedback covering areas which may need review, but that was the one thing which notable by it’s absence.” continues Clive Wigley, Chief Executive at The Oaklea Trust.
“At the very conclusion, where the CQC state what actions they would like the care provider to take, was simply one word: None.”
“This is a massive boost for everyone working in the organisation. It really underlines the working practices and procedures we have developed which encourage a culture of delivering quality in care, along with our ongoing commitment to invest in our people and their personal development.”
“Most importantly, this sends out a reassuring message to those we support, their family and friends, that The Oaklea Trust are providing very high levels of customer service, something which we’ll work hard to continue in the future.”
Notes for Editors.
The Care Quality Commission are the independent regulator of health and social care in England. They regulate care provided by the NHS, local authorities, private companies and voluntary organisations.
The CQC aim to make sure better care is provided for everyone - in hospitals, care homes and people’s own homes and also seek to protect the interests of people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act.
London Mayor Boris Johnson will be in very safe hands as the capital celebrates the city’s history at a prestigious event at the London Guildhall in July, thanks to a guard of honour with a difference.
Amidst events taking place in some of the most historic surroundings, Boris will be escorted by a number of Roman Legionnaires, one of which being Paul Roberts from Staveley.
Paul, who works as a Lifestyle Coordinator for Kendal-based charity The Oaklea Trust, is involved in the re-enactment of historical events and is an active member of the Roman Military Research Society, and on the weekend of Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July he will be one of just six chosen to stand guard over Boris Johnson and other VIPs.
“My interest in historical military started about ten years ago.” explains Paul from his home in Staveley, proudly showing off an impressive collection of replica militaria including shields and headwear.
“It was actually through one of the young people with learning disabilities I was helping to support: he had shown a great interest in the subject and so we decided to take him along to a ‘battle’ which was being performed locally. Incredibly, this really brought him out of himself, quite a transformation for the better and even something which his family would have never imagined.”
In those early days, Paul supported a customer with a learning disability and, together, they took took part in re-enactments of the ancient Greeks for over three years, travelling to events around the country, meeting new people, learning skills such as camping and outdoor living as well as discovering more about Greek history – an experience which was to deliver great benefits to the young man.
Paul’s work for The Oaklea Trust involves supporting young people with learning disabilities.
“Paul the Roman” is also makes an appearance at local schools, definitely a highlight of any historical curriculum. Paul is also involved with Starlight, a charity which helps brighten the lives of seriously and terminally ill children throughout the UK, where Paul is on call to dress up in his full Roman legionnaire outfit for moral-boosting hospital visits with a difference.
Recently, this involved supporting one young man with behavioral disabilities who was quite withdrawn and which was having detrimental effects on his health. After discovering a mutual interest in military history, Paul has been able to encourage greater involvement from the customer, helping to increase his independence and improvements in his behaviour.
“Paul really is a charismatic character.” comments Sue Green, Director at The Oaklea Trust. “Our customers warm to him and many families personally request that he supports their relatives so we’re sure that the London Mayor will be well looked after by this kindly Roman Legionnaire!”
Young people with learning disabilities from a Kendal arts and social group are performing at the Brewery Arts Centre in June.
The ‘Dance and Drama Group’ was developed by Cumbria County Council as part of the Short Breaks for Disabled Children programme in conjunction with Kendal-based charity The Oaklea Trust, with the aim to offer a fun and safe environment for young people with learning disabilities to express themselves.
Jennifer Hone, from The Oaklea Trust, explains further: “Right from the start, the group has been really well attended and is a great experience for these young people. The drama and dance helps with confidence building and the group has really gone from strength to strength.”
The club, which currently has twelve young people aged between 8 and 19 years, meets every Thursday during school term times at the Castle Street Centre in Kendal and so far the group has performed two showcases for their friends and family: Oliver and High School Musical were both chosen by the children themselves, with High School Musical in particular featuring some very special interpretations of some of the songs.
“One member of the group has speech difficulties and mainly communicates through sign language.” continues Jen Hone, “She taught the rest of the group how to sign the lyrics and the whole group performed by both singing and signing – it really was quite an achievement for everyone and simply brilliant to see!”
The tutor at the Dance and Drama Group is Jo Hope from the Stagecoach Performing Arts School: “Through the games and activities we undertake with the group we have seen these young people blossom and their confidence growing.
All of the children are incredibly committed and always give 100%. Likewise, their friends and families have been brilliant in supporting the group and everyone has achieved something really positive from our weekly sessions.”
They are currently working on extracts from the musical, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and are performing at the Brewery Arts Centre on Saturday 25th June as part of a showcase of young talent. Tickets are available from The Brewery Arts Centre and everyone is welcome to come along and watch.
Helen Moffitt, Dance Development Officer at the Brewery Arts Centre, says “The Brewery has been running the ‘Dance Platform’ events for 8 years. They are an opportunity to give people of all ages and abilities the chance to perform in a professional venue.
The sense of achievement in creating new work as a team and then hearing the applause for your efforts builds confidence and is in no way a competition (after all, there is enough competition in life!) but a chance to share new ideas and enjoy working and performing together. At the heart of the Brewery has always been our work with young people and other groups in the community.”
“Everyone involved with the group is so excited by the thought of performing at the Brewery Jen Hone adds, “We’re hoping that lots of people will come along and see young people enjoying themselves, developing their artistic skills and putting on a great show.”
The funding for the Dance and Drama Group is due to end in September which may mean that ‘Joseph’ may be the last production for these budding stars of the stage. The Oaklea Trust are looking at all avenues to support this group past September, and are working with Cumbria County Council Obviously we’d like to continue and are looking at every avenue to raise the necessary funds. If any organisation or company would like to help us out, in any way they can, it really would be greatly appreciated.”
In the meantime, there are a number of available spaces for children with learning or physical disabilities who would like to become part of the Group, with volunteers also welcome to come and lend a hand.
Please contact Jen Hone at The Oaklea Trust on 01539 735 025 for more details.