I spent Wednesday and Thursday last week working with a group from Turning Point Scotland. This is an organisation with branches the length and breadth of Scotland, “from Fraserburgh to Galashiels” as their own leaflet says. They offer support to people whose lives have been affected by learning disabilities, addictions, mental health problems, Dementia and homelessness. In other words, not the easiest groups to deal with. I have experience of working with disadvantaged groups and individuals and I know how challenging (and rewarding) the work can be.
I was recruited by Aileen Reid who manages TPS’s Employability programme. Aileen and I had worked together previously and she thought I could add something to the training she was doing with this group who had volunteered to work on the Employability programme. Essentially, TPS is trying to change the mindset which says these service users have so many problems they just need support to live into saying that many of these service users can look towards working. That may not mean a job as many others would understand it. It may mean voluntary work, which, of course, may then lead on to more traditional employment.
To launch the programme, Aileen held an event in Glasgow with presentations from a number of partners, including JobCentre Plus and others. My highlight of that event was a presentation by one of TPS’s own staff who is also a service user. This young woman was born with cerebral palsy and her mother was told that she would never talk or walk and would need to be cared for for the rest of her life. Instead she stood in front of an audience of about fifty and told us her story, accompanied by the PowerPoint presentation which she herself had created. What an inspiration!
Also inspirational were the thirty five or so TPS volunteers I had the privilege of working with last week and back in October. These are a mixed group of individuals who seem totally committed to supporting their service users and who were such a joy to work with. The future of Turning Point Scotland and the future for the organisation’s clients must be good in such positive hands.