A boost to the coffers of a South Tyneside charity has led to more places being made available for young people with learning disabilities.
The Route2Work programme - based at Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm and Bede Museum - aims to support those with a range of conditions to become more confident and independent.
Thanks to government funding, charity Groundwork STAN has been able to increase the number of places available for learners to 24.
The extra income has been supported by cash from the Education Skilss Funding Agency.
The course is specifically designed to help those between the age of 16 to 25 with learning disabilities, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, dyspraxia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and motor skills difficulties, to gain vocational qualifications, functional skills and gain workplace experience.
During their time on the course they have access to a fully functioning animal farm, horticultural facilities and Bede Museum in situ on the 11-acre site.
Liz McHugh, who has overall responsibility for the SEN programme, said: “We are reaching out to potential SEN learners and their parents to join Route2Work as our programme really supports those who attend to become more self-sufficient and develop in a safe, as well as beautiful and historically significant environment.
“One of the biggest fears of parents of young people with special educational needs is that they worry about who will be able to take care of their children when they are no longer able to.
“Ensuring our learners continue to develop and become more independent is often a great source of comfort to parents as well as giving the young person an opportunity for a far better quality of life.”
The Route2Work SEN programme delivers compulsory maths and English and includes vocational areas such as: equality and diversity, sports and leisure, horticulture and animal care.
Ben Hardingham, who joined the programme in 2016 and has been diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder), moderate learning difficulties and a speech impediment, said: “Working at Jarrow Hall has been great; we’ve been able to get outside and work with the animals as well as use the computers and chill out facilities inside. I really feel like working at Jarrow Hall and at Marsden Community Centre where I work in the shop has really helped with my confidence and given me new skills.”
Kieran McGee, 18, from Jarrow has ADHD and significant motor skills difficulties. He is going into his second year at Jarrow Hall on the Route2Work educational welfare course. He has made progress in terms of his ability to socialise, his confidence to learn and ability to take on more challenges and skills.
For details visit ww.groundwork.org.uk/stan