Time to take your jacket off! A call to action from the Gr8 Support Movement.

Last week, a Support Worker from the Gr8 Support Movement ( described her sadness to The Movement at seeing Carers out supporting people at Lakeland Shopping Centre whilst wearing hi viz jackets that said ‘Carer’.

This provoked an outcry amongst the Support Workers in The Movement:

‘Really wrong ‘un’!’; ‘Good grief!’; ‘A uniform in my eyes is bad enough for a Support Worker. This is a new level of crazy!” ‘Nothing like knowing the public seeing ‘them and us’!’; ‘We need a revolution to get rid of this kind of inhumane organisation!’; ‘Outrageous is an understatement!”

Why, you might ask? Because these jackets so clearly state a ‘them’ and ‘us’ attitude when so many of us working so hard to address and breakdown these barriers of ‘them’ and ‘us’ and instead create more natural inclusion within communities where people feel valued as equal, fellow human beings.

Being a Support Worker or a Carer, we believe, is one of the most important jobs in society. Our jobs are about empowering, enabling, and freeing people – people who too often are disempowered, not seen/heard and not valued as equal.

We see beautiful support as a two way, strong and genuine relationship with the person we are supporting – a relationship based on equality. We support people to live their lives with integrity and respect, as each and every human deserves.

Wearing a jacket, or any uniform, like this is not just unnecessary in these circumstances, it is outrageous. It disempowers, making people stand out as separate to others in their local community. A subtle but powerful negative to society in a time when we should all be aspiring to equal citizenship and human rights for all.

This is yet another example that does not represent the many stories of beautiful support that go on around the country today.

The Gr8 Support Movement calls for:

· Any organisation who ask their staff to wear those jackets to STOP!
· People who receive support to know that this is NOT OK!

· Commissioners who are aware of such practices to ensure it STOPS!

(If you want to contact the #Gr8 Support Movement email:

#Gr8 Support is… fighting someone’s corner in the workplace!

Success Story of how WorkAid @Aldingbourne Trust supported a client into work, fought for Job Retention and ultimately dealt with discrimination in the work place.

The team at WorkAid started supporting a woman, let’s call her Janet (not her real name!), in August 2017.  Janet is 52 years old and has a learning disability. She had recently moved to West Sussex.

Janet was keen to find a job near her new home, having previously worked for 2 large businesses in their canteens for over 23 years!!

After attending a Job Fayre in November 2017 Janet was offered an interview with a contractor for another large business.  She was supported at the interview by a WorkAid team member.  At the interview Janet mentioned she had learning disabilities and could not write or read.

Janet was offered the job and started working the following week. After 2 days she was told she was being ‘let go off’ as she only had a trial and they had no awareness of her difficulties regarding writing and reading when they took her on.

WorkAid team members helped Janet challenge this, as she was initially offered a job, not trial and had made them aware about her particular support needs.  WorkAid supported Janet to keep her job by liaising with her direct manager, area manager and HR Department. It took nearly 3 months of persistent liaison with the company until she was finally reinstated into her job.

Later in 2018 Janet contacted her WorkAid Employment Consultant to make her aware that her manager had unfairly treated her in her job.  The Employment Consultant immediately met with Janet to write down the details of her concerns.  Janet’s concerns complaint related to organisational, verbal and emotional abuse.  This led to a safeguarding concern being raised with the local authority.

The local authority and WorkAid took this matter seriously and several meetings were set up to raise the concerns whilst the company carried out an investigation.

It was in everyone’s interest to get a satisfactory outcome for all.

Janet was advised by WorkAid not to attend work until all was resolved, but thanks to WorkAid support this break from work was on full pay.

A mediation meeting was set up between Janet and her manager and facilitated the senior area manager and WorkAid.

Ultimately, Janet is still in work!  The company has learnt some valuable lessons around supporting employees with learning disabilities.

In conclusion, this case shows the power of #Gr8Support.  We must stand up with and for the people we support.  We must not give in when things get tough!

A special thanks goes to everyone who offered #Gr8Support in supporting Janet (remembers it’s not her real name!)


Petrae Edwards

(#Gr8SupportMovement Change Maker and Aldingbourne Trust team member.

James is ALWAYS achieving!

James is a young man with Asperger’s who has turned his hobby of being a mascot into a providing entertainment for children’s parties and assisting at charity events. At first when James expressed that he enjoyed wearing giant sized mascot themed character outfits, no one in the support team had a clue, but as time has gone on James has educated us all on the importance of this role.

At the children’s parties, James as the mascot is the central part of the entertainment, dancing, signing autographs and engaging everybody in laughter and fun. To date James has now been a mascot actively participating in football and rugby events, charity activities, local community festivals and sponsored walks.

Recently James has been involved in designing his own unique ‘Mango Soar, flavoured craft beer’, in partnership with Gypsy Hill brewery and Certitude as part of a campaign entitled ‘Hops Not Hate’. This campaigns objective is to highlight the serious matter of Hate Crime directed towards people with autism and disabilities and opening up discussion for the need for better social integration to avoid loneliness and isolation for individuals. On first meeting James and getting to know his character I informed him that one day he would be famous. Working in line with this objective the new craft beer being launched in major stores and supermarket this week has a picture of James on the front of the can and he is over the moon about his great personal achievement.

As a Certitude staff team we are very proud to be a part of James’s person centred support, witnessing his confidence, happiness and skills grow is for us all is the added bonus. #Gr8SupportMovement #Gr8Support #Gr8Supportis #Connecting #Community

Mark Wallis Certitude manager 29/8/18

A Spotlight on Autism by Amber Firth

In this article Amber shares some of her personal story about living with Autism and how it affects day to day life for her and others living with Autism. Autism by Amber

Thanks Amber!

Love, Sex and Relationships Policy & Guidelines plus How Best to Support Me

We are an advocacy group in Chorley called ‘Voice for All’ and for the past couple of years we have been championing and campaigning for people with a learning disability to learn more about and enjoy friendships, love, sex and relationships.

Last year we were fortunate enough to be involved in a joint training course and programme for both self-advocates and support staff called ‘Y be Shy about Sex’. This was a fantastic opportunity for us all to talk openly and learn together about things like our bodies, friendships, dating, types of relationships, sex and sexuality, staying safe etc.

We were also invited by our care provider to write for them a National Staff Policy about ‘Sex and Relationships’ and since then we have written and published an easy read guide and policy called ‘Love, Sex and Relationships’.  

Since then we have written and published a leaflet about ‘How best to support me with Friendships and Relationships’.  We are very happy to be able to share them with the Supported Loving Network.

Please see the both documents here:  

VFA How best to support me – Friendships and Relationships – 2017

Love, Sex and Relationships – BOC Easy Read Policy and Guidelines – Feb 2017

Healing Integrity Gaps – John O’Brien

Person Led Support Planning

When they need publicly commissioned assistance, people with learning disabilities have to enact their freedom under more constraints than other citizens do. Many laws and policies have not caught up with the ideas that people should be able to lead an ordinary life with the support they need and that people themselves should be in charge of decision making about their lives. This means that people’s lives are lived in view of many eyes and under the influence of many voices that claim the right to determine what is legal or appropriate for them: politicians, civil servants, commissioners, inspectors, investigators, managers and lawyers for commissioners and managers all have a say about the conditions under which people and those in direct relationship with them live. Almost always these voices are speaking generally about a group of people with learning disabilities. What an inspector discovers in reviewing a file and perhaps having a brief meeting is evidence to inform the inspector’s judgment about the level of quality of a service, not an intervention into the particular person’s life. However, when people with authority speak generally about what must and must not be done, their voices can be so loud as to drown out people’s own voices and the voices of those who know and care about them.

O’Brien Integrity Gaps 2 copy

Valuing People, 15 years old (Community Living Magazine)

Valuing People, 15 years old – destination reached, stalled or derailed?
When it was launched there was cross-party support for the Valuing People White Paper (DoH, 2001) which set out a new strategy for learning disability for the 21st century to im- prove the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Valuing People said: “People with learning disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society. Very few have jobs, live in their own homes or have choice over who cares for them. This needs to change: people with learning disabilities must no longer be marginalised or excluded. Valuing People sets out how the Government will provide new opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities and their families to live full and independent lives as part of their communities.”

Using the Valuing People categories a team from Paradigm asked self advocates, advo- cates, families, commissioners, support providers, health/social care workers, and policy makers what has changed over the last 15 years.

You can see the full article here: Valuing People, 15 years old (Community Living Magazine)

Adam comes south to volunteer at #BeFree16

We love that Adam shared his story of volunteering at #BeFree16 with Inclusion North.  Have a read!  Thanks Adam.adam-for-inc-north


We’ve got a life – Book & Film

Getta Life, a small organisation in Coventry which constantly demonstrates a style of support that enables people to be truly themselves. People who have previously been denied the freedom to live good ordinary lives.

We at Paradigm find their work inspirational and believe the book is a really helpful resource to both inspire, challenge and assist people to re-think what it is that enables good support to happen.

“Relationships are what matter in life; when their right, everything else is more likely to be right. (Sue Deeley and Julie Smith, Getta Life)”

The Book:
We’ve got a life – A book about how people with learning difficulties have discovered who they are and claimed back their lives.

This book set out to show what makes a difference when supporting people with learning difficulties. A book about Hope, Love, Moving forward, Growth and Healing. It demonstrates a style of support that enables people to be truly themselves.
This can be achieved by: “Getting a life”, “Right People”, “Right Place”, “Right Time”, “Right Relationships”. With all this anything is possible. The book tells you how you can do this.

The Film:
We’ve got a life – Four inspirational stories. The film compliments the book “We’ve got a life” and demonstrates how it all works in practise.

If you’re interesting in ordering the book or the film, or both, please contact us at or call 020 8870 8643. The price is £15 + postage each.

Alternatively, you can order the book and film by contacting Getta Life directly by emailing or call 02476 632349.

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