Based on the significant needs and gaps in the provision for this age group in the region, our plan is to start a Day Centre, operating Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, catering for vulnerable and learning disabled young adults. Initially we imagine providing a programme of work experience, training opportunities and social-therapeutic input for a group of 10-12 young adults aged between 18 and 35 years. Our extensive experience in the work in the U.K. has convinced us that this particular age group presents the greatest potential for personal growth, skills development and achievement, but is also that time in life when vulnerable and learning-disabled people are most at risk from isolation, alienation and neglect. This is because of the lack of appropriate opportunities or social support, a problem accentuated in Romania with its unfortunate history of institutionalised neglect of learning disabled people and a general lack of social care provision. We are a group of experienced and qualified professionals with lifelong commitments to this work. We have connections to this region and want to bring our expertise and enthusiasm back to what for many of us is our home country.
We have started to develop an organic/biodynamic garden on a 7540 m2 land that we own. We plan to set up a variety of workshops which would cater for a variety of needs and abilities. This could include crafts, cooking and catering, food processing, recycling and other community service workshops. The point being that these are not just occupational work settings, but offer ‘meaningful work’ which has a purpose, is needed by others in the wider community, has viable outcomes and good training possibilities. The exact mix of workshops would depend on a number of factors, not least who we have working with us and what partnerships locally we can find to help sponsor the work. Therefore we imagine a flexible programme that is adaptable to the needs presented to us by our ‘clients’, and the local possibilities accessible to them.
The work and training aspects of our service would be complimented by social and therapeutic inputs including art, music and dance, with the possibility of further one-to-one therapeutic support offered where it would be beneficial. In our experience of this work, forming a therapeutic and sheltered community around this work is always beneficial! Therefore we plan to provide a common meal each day, which of itself provides opportunities for meaningful work in cooking and catering, and involve the young adults in community sponsored events like celebrating the Christian festivals, organising social and cultural events, and participating in group outings.
In summary, our vision is to build up a small but diverse social care provision which provides vulnerable young adults with those necessary elements in life which are the stepping stones into adulthood—meaningful work and work experience, social integration and a sense of belonging, and increased independence, skills and confidence.
Drawing by David Newbatt