In June 2013 Mayday Trust, in collaboration with the Foyer Federation, launched the first Foyer in Europe for people with learning disabilities.
Mayday recognised from detailed research that people with learning disability, on leaving school, were often left to sit in day centres participating in activities that did not always utilise their individual talents or raise their aspirations. People were treated the same and the emphasis was on their needs, on what they couldn’t do rather than what they could.
Mayday Learning Ability Foyer aims to work with each individual and their family to explore their abilities, and enable them to access opportunities in the local community where they can integrate, contribute and really thrive.
In the first 12 months, Mayday Learning Ability Foyer has worked with 26 people, 21 of which live in Mayday accommodation and 5 who live independently in the community. The achievements have been incredible:
23% of people have severe learning disabilities but 2 have reduced their dependence on medication and started to become more active in learning new skills in the home.
20% of people have gained part time employment with local businesses, e.g.
- a local furniture shop has employed one person who has maintained their job for the 12 months
- a care home employs one person who walks 3 miles each day to her job
- a local printer has employed one person on a part time basis following a trail period where the young person demonstrated their creative skills
- One person offered to work for no pay at the local Tesco store to demonstrate their ability to do the job. After 4 weeks Tesco offered the person employment.
- One person is employed with the British Heart Foundation in one of their charity shops
31% of people are actively volunteering, 20% of people are on work placements
35% of people gained accredited qualifications in “Maths with Money”.The Foyer is now running 3 accredited learning classes through joint working with Adult Community Learning at Warwickshire County Council in Maths, English and Drama.
Want to know more about the Learning Ability Foyer? Check out this short film about this groundbreaking new approach, produced in collaboration with film director/producer Barry Fitzgerald.
Kay and Wayne’s Story
Kay and Wayne both lived in Mayday Foyer accommodation. Kay fell pregnant and staff at the Foyer informed the local Safeguarding team. The Child protection team immediately placed Kay and the unborn baby under the child protection register.
Following an initial meeting with statutory services, Mayday Foyer staff were informed that the baby would be taken into care once it was born. This was against the wishes of Kay, Wayne and both the families. Having worked closely with the couple, Mayday staff believed that the couple should be further assessed to evaluate their ability to look after the baby. Mayday involved IN Control, a national learning disability organisation to give the staff the advice and guidance required to try and keep the family together when baby was born
Mayday staff and In control worked with the families to ensure that Kay would have support when baby was born. Kay moved into a mother and baby facility, Dudley Lodge a week before the birth. Baby Emily arrived and while Kay was not allowed to be on her own with her, Kay bonded with the baby and was a very able mother. She was observed for 24 hours to make sure Kay could look after the baby
Over the next 3 months Mayday staff worked with Dudley staff going to meetings weekly to get a progress report. The final report confirmed that Kay could look after baby but not on her own and not at Mayday as Mayday did not provide 24 hour cover. Kay and Emily moved in with her cousins. Wayne stayed with Mayday to continue with his package of support.
Kay was continually monitored and had to go to court regularly. This continued for about a year. The final court appearance confirmed that Emily is no longer on child protection anymore. The family celebrated by going to New York (see photo right). The extended family are very involved and thrilled with the outcome.
Mayday believe that too often people like Kay and Wayne are seen as risks and actions taken may not be necessarily in the best interest of the individuals. Mayday Foyer’s approach is to look at each situation and ensure that while risks are managed, people are able to take control over their own lives.