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Studio 21 Opens Its Doors

January 23rd 2013

John Hough

John Hough

A blackbird

John cuts the ribbon

Musical instruments

Musical instruments on display

A room with textiles

One of the rooms

For years Studio 21 has been about kitchens, and interiors, but not any more. Councillor John Hough cut the ribbon on Studio 21, a new facility set up to help people with disabilities to learn to live independently. The new organisation opted to keep the old name for the Cannon Street location, but its purpose is very different to its previous use.

Open space

The space is lovely. It's white tiled and open, with a number of rooms dedicated to different purposes. There's one set up with IT stations and craft tables, with a spinning wheel in the corner. The entrance lobby has welcoming sofas, whilst there's a small room at the back that's equipped for foot massages and other health-related activities. The main room is very spacious, and even though a lot of people turned up for the opening it didn't feel crowded.

Part of this sense of space suggested that the location was waiting to be filled with things, but one of the things people with autism need is not to be crowded and distracted by clutter, so in that sense it is ideal. It's bright, spacious and pleasant, with ramps everywhere for ease of wheelchair access.

Who will use it?

I spoke to Dave Whittock, one of the directors. He explained to me that it's intended for service users over the age of eighteen and into old age. Studio 21 is part of Housing and Support Solutions, which is actually a company rather than a charity. Service users are funded by individual budgets and health and social care grants. Mr Whittock was also open to the possibility of people coming and paying for services with them on an informal basis in order to take part in individual activities for an hour or so.

Studio 21 is intended to be a hub, Mr Whittock told me. So a lot of the activities may involve going out into the community to learn various skills. The service will cater to people with fairly complex needs as well as those with less severe problems, with a range of suitable activities. He was keen to stress that they don't want to be dictatorial or rigid, so it's more about providing people with the kind of activities they want to do, rather than laying down a set curriculum and insisting that everyone stick to it.

Displays

There were lots of displays showcasing organisations that are of help to people with disabilities. Sailability were there: they offer sailing for the disabled at Covenham reservoir once a fortnight. They are run by volunteers.

Welfare to Work were also there. They are a specialist team within the county council who teach a number of job-related skills in order to prepare people for the world of work. This covers areas such as job searching, travel training, filling in application forms, and interview skills.



 


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