Phil Crowther, Lisa Spark and Hamza Din
Local authorities in Teesside and North Yorkshire are backing a new scheme, which takes a fresh approach to helping adults with learning difficulties.
The Robin Centre, based at Ormesby in Middlesbrough, has officially opened to the first students, all aged 18 and over, to take advantage of the facilities at the TAD Centre on Ormesby Road.
The scheme has involved a considerable investment and would not have gone ahead without the financial support and encouragement of the owners of the building in Ormesby, Nasser Din and his son Hamza, as Phil Crowther says: "Their investment into this project has been considerable and we are interested in expanding what we do here to other areas. Without their financial support, the day centre couldn't have happened."
Up to 20 students with learning disabilities will be supervised by trained support workers who understand their complex needs.
The Robin Centre, which is open from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon, aims to help its students cope with everyday life.
It's been financed by a Teesside care company and has not received any public funding to set it up. The centre is equipped with an activities room that has pool and table tennis tables, and, importantly, a social media and gaming area with computers.
"There is a vital education side to this project," explains director Phil Crowther.
"Adults with learning disabilities can be vulnerable and they'll be advised on how to use social media, which can be dangerous, responsibly.
"The other major part of our work will be explaining how our students can look after themselves and with this in mind, they'll be taught how to cook and how to buy food.
"The Robin Centre has a garden where the students can grow their own veg and then cook them in the kitchen. This is what we call: Plant it, grow it, eat it.
"We believe what we offer is at the cutting edge of caring for adults with learning disability and it's impressed social workers from North Yorkshire County Council, Middlesbrough Council and the local authority covering Redcar and Cleveland, all of which will finance the daily costs of the students."
Students attending the centre in Ormesby will also be able to use a dance and theatre studio nearby in which they can put on their own shows.
The Robin Centre will be managed by Sarah Whitaker who is experienced in looking after adults with learning disabilities.
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