Let's Get Digital
Options for Life received a grant from Mencap for this project. The project enabled the participants to achieve digital skills and get online.
Participants received internet-enabled tablets to use in the building and at home.
Five staff and two participants received free access to Digital Champions network to learn digital skills through various training.
Participants enjoy weekly 'Let's Get Digital' session where they meet with their friends from other hubs on Zoom, learn to create their email addresses and send emails to their friends using Gmail.
They also play educational games, participate in 'Makaton Music', watch documentaries on YouTube, create artwork on tablets, and many other digital activities. The project created Digital Champions who had been helping their peers learn digital skills.
Renovation for Nutrition
Screwfix Foundation awarded us a grant towards the cost of refurbishing the kitchen at Oak Green Lodge, one of the hubs of the Options for Life. The work is completed and the kitchen is ready for use by the participants. Participants enjoy cooking healthy food for themselves and their friends and family in the kitchen. This project built the base for the improved mental state of the participants, greater physical stability, excellence in cooking skills, and a boost in self-confidence of the participants.
Let's Get Active!
Let's Get Active! project was part of another Mencap grant under Tackling Inequalities Fund. The project engaged participants and staff into online fitness sessions. The trainer, Teena delivered the online fitness session once a week to the participants. Participants used their tablets to watch the exercises and practised with the trainer. The grant supported the trainer salary and the room hire for the sessions. The project provided effective and targetted relief for those who had suffered isolation, loneliness and physical inactivity during national lockdown.
Let's Grow Digital
We received a grant from Mencap to set up a digital hub at our Oak Green Lodge hub. A previous Mencap grant allowed us to provide tablets to our participants. However, a project that would provide digital skills opportunities to the parents and carers would be beneficial. So, we created a digital hub with four laptops. Parents, carers and participants are free to come in and use the laptops for learning, training or any other digital activities. We added some more laptops to the digital hub from the Turner Trust grant for the project.
Music for Wellbeing
Music is the passion of our participants. The funding from a charitable organisation helped purchase musical accessories such as an analogue audio mixer, loudspeaker, microphone, headphones, multicore, portable stage, stage lights, control board and cables. In addition, we have iPads and musical instruments which our participants use in their music sessions. The funding also supported hiring a music trainer and musicians to join the sharing sessions for a year. The participants were engaged in practice workshops with our music tutor every week at the Ocker Hill venue of Options for Life. There were four hours of music sessions every month by an expert professional musician. Each of the sessions demonstrated new styles and instrumentation. Our participants collaborated with the musician and staff to perform in our existing choir. In addition, they had an insight into the styles and cultural backgrounds of their music. Moreover, our radio shows featured the interviews of our participants about their experience of music.
Football 4 Healthy Life
Options for Life received a grant from Boshier-Hinton Foundation for its 'Football 4 Healthy Life' project. Football is a healthy game which ensures participants sound physical health. This project provided an opportunity for people with learning disabilities to receive training, practice and take part in football competitions. It brought out the individual potential, built their confidence and kept them physically and mentally fit.
Ten of our participants received football strips. They practise football sessions every week at Goals. Each football session lasts for two hours and consists of fun football matches, coaching drills and other football activities. The sessions are open to all abilities and impairments. We invited other charities working with learning disabilities to join the fun.
Options for Life Website Development
The Eveson Trust provided a grant of £5,940 toward a web development project for Options for Life. The project introduced a brand new website for Options for Life. The new website was built on a drag-and-drop interface that allowed us to update the website without any coding knowledge.
An informative and interactive website is essential for a charity organisation like Options for Life. It helps communicate with our participants, their parents, carers, funders and stakeholders. The website is also a platform to raise funding to support our participants.
The funding also helped procure some marketing materials for the publicity of our work to the wider communities.
Glow & Go!
Thanks to Arnold Clark Community Fund for a grant of £2,000 for our beauty salon project. The fund was used to provide a purpose-built beauty salon at the Ashes hub for the participants who are people with learning disabilities and/or autism, to be able to have a more real-life experience whilst taking part in their beauty, hair and pamper sessions. The cost for the equipment to set up the beauty salon was met by the grant money.
We also received an additional grant of £2,661 from Morrisons Foundation for the project. The participants at the Oak Green Lodge hub have the opportunity to go through a beauty salon experience at the hub. A beauty trainer provided beauty care and tips to the participants.
Let's Enjoy Christmas Dinner!
Options for Life won the Tesco Community Grant competition with votes from the customers. We received a grant of £1,495 for our project to offer a Christmas meal to our participants.
Christmas is a magical, happy and exciting time for most families, full of laughter and festive fun, but for families whose loved ones have a learning disability, this can be far from the most wonderful time of the year. The flashing lights, crowds of people, unexpected guests, loud music and even family gatherings can cause severe anxiety and distress to those suffering from a learning disability, particularly those with Autism.
With the Christmas meal together with their peers, participants will enjoy the festive season and friendship. This will build on the sense of well-being and self-worth resulting in achieving their aspirations and full potential. Participants will enjoy a three-course meal with starters, the main course and a dessert. They will receive Christmas gifts and engage in decorating the hub.
Christmas Theatre Trips
Options for Life received a grant of £2,000 from the Bruce Wake Charitable Trust to offer Christmas Theatre Trips to our participants.
Participants in Acorn Lodge hub have PMLD and 80% are in wheelchairs. As a result, they rarely have an opportunity to go to the theatre and enjoy shows. So, the project will enable them to enjoy theatrical performances in Wolverhampton and Birmingham in December. Twenty-four participants will enjoy Dream Girl, Aladdin, and Elf in separate groups. The venues offer wheelchair spaces for audiences who have access needs.
The project aims to encourage and assist people with learning disabilities to participate in and enjoy leisure pursuits and have new and exciting experiences in a safe and stimulating environment.
Time2Relax: Setting up a Sensory Room
Our participants who are people with learning disabilities and/or autism have difficulties with effective communication, social interactions and comprehension, which result in atypical behaviours that make it difficult for them to focus and thrive in everyday
We received a grant of £3,109.36 from a Charitable Trust to create a sensory room which will include adding sensory lights to one of the smaller rooms at our Ocker Hill hub. The participants can use this room to access it as and when they would like to as part of their drop-in sessions.
We will buy lights and different sensory materials. In addition, we have a touchscreen TV to be installed in the room. We will also install light-up liquid floor tiles, which will create sensory stories. This sensory experience will work on a scheduled basis. Participants from other community hubs can also use our sensory room, making it available for wider community use.
Get Green Fingered!
We received a grant of £1,000 from the Finnis Scott Foundation for our gardening project. This project is the sequel to our ongoing gardening activities. Gardening projects have been very popular among our participants. Participants can use the skills and knowledge gained from this project to start gardening in their homes. In addition, they want to make use of the allotment space by growing their fruits and vegetables of choice.
The project will have two phases- indoor and outdoor gardening. In the indoor phase, participants will prepare the propagators, sow the seeds, and grow the plants. Then they will transfer the plants to the allotment for growth. Harvesting will follow when the vegetables are fully grown.
Improvement to a Sensory Garden
The project ‘Improvement to a Sensory Garden’ involves a garden at our Acorn Lodge hub, which will be transformed into an improved sensory garden by planting sensory plants and installing objects and equipment.
Phase one of the garden project was completed over lockdown with a wheelchair swing, and musical instruments (Sansa Rimba and Colossus Chimes) purchased through a successful grant application. The participants enjoyed the equipment, which brought an extra dimension to their lives and overall experience at Acorn Lodge.
In this project, we plan to further improve the garden by adding a basket swing that can be used by more able mobile participants and by adding finishing touches to give an interactive sensory experience.
So far, we have secured match funding from Owen family trust, Grimmitt trust and Solvay (UK) Solutions for the project. A further amount is needed to meet the remaining cost of the project.
Let's Get Lyrical!
We received a grant of £1,825.44 from the Creative Black Country for our songwriting and musical performance project.
The songwriting sessions will be held once a month from April 2023 to September 2023. Jobe Sullivan is a musician, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist. In the morning, a songwriting workshop by Jobe Sullivan will focus on creating an inclusive and accessible space for all participants. Sullivan will tailor the workshop to meet the specific needs of the group, using a combination of visual aids, hands-on activities, and individualised attention to help participants develop their songwriting skills. The workshop will cover topics such as melody, rhythm, and lyrics, with an emphasis on fostering creativity and self-expression. Participants will have the opportunity to collaborate with others and share their work in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
There will be a session at the end of the project where we will bring in a full band to perform various songs, including some of the workshopped material. This performance will give the participants a chance to experience the full potential of their songs, as well as provide an opportunity for the participants to showcase their talents to an audience.
Watch the Final Music Bonanza
Celebration of the King's Coronation
We received a grant of £500 from the SCVO Vision 2030 Community Grants to celebrate
King's Coronation. Participants celebrated the King's Coronation in a grand manner. The week-long festivities featured various engaging activities held at the Oak Green Lodge and Acorn Lodge hubs of the Options for Life. The event culminated with a visit from the Deputy Lieutenant of West Midlands Lieutenancy, who delivered an inspiring speech to mark the occasion and read a message from the King and the Queen.
The events were designed solely for the participant of Options for Life and their parents and carers. We created flyers to disseminate information about the celebration events. So, the publicities were done on social media, charity websites and by emailing parents and carers.
Overall, the event was a resounding success, leaving a lasting impression on everyone who attended and reinforcing the organisation's commitment to empowering individuals with learning disabilities.
New Age Kurling
We received a grant of £1,000 from Pedmore Sporting Club for our ‘New Age Kurling’ project, which is one of the original curling games but adapted so that it can be played indoors on any smooth, flat surface, such as a sports hall, rather than on ice. Notably, the game can be played by both able-bodied and disabled people of all ages. The Ashes hall room will be used to play kurling by the participants. The kurling session will provide a great introduction to the sport with an overview of the basics and information on how the game is played. Each session will last two hours once a week. The kurling sessions will give participants the confidence and skills to play kurling. Participants previously played kurling at the Special Olympics and found it most interesting and enjoyable.
Enhancing Well-being Through Holistic Yoga and Creative Therapies: A Community Mental Health Initiative for Adults with Learning Disabilities, Autism and PMLD
We have been successful in receiving a grant of £17,156.30 from the Sandwell Council Better Mental Health Strategy grant scheme. The project is designed to comprehensively address the mental health and well-being needs of the groups through a multifaceted and person-centred approach. First and foremost, a series of evidence-based workshops and therapeutic sessions will be organised, focusing on teaching coping strategies, stress management techniques, and mindfulness practices. These sessions will equip participants with practical tools to navigate daily challenges, reduce anxiety, and enhance emotional resilience. Additionally, art therapy and expressive activities within the drama sessions will provide creative outlets for individuals to process their emotions, fostering self-expression and a sense of emotional release. Through these workshops, participants will gain valuable skills to manage their mental well-being effectively.