The newly-founded Herbert Group (formerly Stringer and Wood groups) provides care and learning through activities both on and off-site. Based in our newly refurbished centre, our learners are made welcome from day one of their time with us. With the centre being user friendly, learners can easily find their way around, allowing freedom and independency. Herbert Group is not only about developing our learners’ current life skills, but it also identifies new skills, such as cookery and home management to further promote and enhance their communication, independence and choice, based on the PfA (Preparing for Adulthood) agenda.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and Makaton are used to support and enable learners to have a ‘voice’ and make active choices regarding their learning and enrichment activities. Learners engage in a range of different activities designed to develop skills in a range of areas. They are also encouraged to take part in entrepreneurial activities to develop confidence and independence to support individual and group success. Previous entrepreneurial activities have allowed the group to purchase a widescreen television, as well as trips to Beamish Museum and ten-pin bowling venues.
All of our learners participate in practical skills such as shopping, food preparation and home management skills at a level, ability and expectation to suit their differentiation, needs and progression. These activities include arts and crafts, upcycling, cookery, numeracy and literacy-based games, drama, music and Makaton sessions. Learners also take part in relaxation sessions such as holistic therapy, Tacpac (linking the sensory world of touch and music) and a wonderful foot spa. Functional skills such as literacy and numeracy are embedded into daily routines to allow our learners to transfer and build upon their current skills to support them when accessing shops, tailored work experience and other facilities in the local community.
Learning through activities
We also strive to participate in as many enriching opportunities as possible; these include outdoor education, residential trips, various field trips and simple days out in the community. Additionally, our learners are encouraged to visit sports and community centres and take part in a wide range of physical activities, such as football, archery and P.E. Many of our sessions are held in the new Citizens House, which has a bespoke sports hall.
As well as taking part in sports, our learners are encouraged to access their community. This includes taking part in working in our Oasis for Life Café, also based in Citizens House. Here learners are given the opportunity to develop communication skills with customers, as well as prepare and serve simple beverages and snacks. For the more ‘outdoor’ learner, we have an allotment at Blackhill, where learners choose which vegetables and fruit they want to grow. Learners work individually and collectively to nurture this over the spring and summer ready for harvesting. Some of the produce is used in cookery classes, whilst some is sold to fund learner activities.
Learners in the Herbert Group are given choices each day to which activity they would like to participate in. This is a brilliant opportunity to see all of the learners with a variety of abilities working together whilst encouraging and supporting one another. We believe promoting choice, communication and independence to every learner is essential, so we do this throughout each and every day.
In addition to the above, we work with many outside agencies to ensure we are providing the best practice for all our PMLD learners when it comes to meeting their postural needs. We have two acheeva beds (donated by the Hilton Group) which some of our learners access on a daily basis to aid their posture. We do stretches with certain learners, using a standing aid and gaiters to help strengthen their leg muscles so they can stand more comfortably and effectively.
All in all, our Herbert Group learners benefit from a truly holistic and tailored approach to their needs, learning requirements and aspirations. They are also allowed to socially flourish with further enrichment activities such as residential excursions, social evenings (consisting of movie and bowling nights etc) where they will embrace fun, as well as experience new and exciting challenges that will further enhance their personal self-esteem and well-being.