Western Trust’s learning disability programme proves successful for Derry man

The Western Trust’s New Directions Programme has won praise from Lee Snodgrass, a 27 year old with a learning disability from New Buildings in Derry, speaking about his experiences of working with the Trust.

The New Directions Programme is a community access service which links people with a learning disability to employment, social, leisure and education opportunities in their own local area. It helped Lee to find permanent part time paid work as a receptionist at Lakeview Hospital in Derry.

The Programme has been up and running for two years now and over 48 individuals with a learning disability have progressed through it. Lee is now supported by Mencap’s ‘Workable’ programme who provide ongoing support throughout his employment with the Trust.

Lee has dyspraxia, learning difficulties and an anxiety disorder and speaking this week he thanked the Western Trust for providing the platform. He said: “These disabilities will not stop or hold me back from achieving what I want to achieve now and also in the future. Anyone who has a disability in whatever form can still have the ability at the end of the day to achieve great things if given the opportunity and platform to do so.”

He continued: “I am here to champion and to advocate that having any form of disability should not stop you giving people with a disability a chance to contribute, to succeed and to be independent because at the end of the day everyone is different, special, talented and unique in their own little way.”

Margaret McDaid, Western Trust Community Access Worker for the programme explains that through New Directions individuals are undertaking work placements, joining clubs, taking up sport and embarking on courses. She said: “Social inclusion makes a huge difference to the lives of people with a learning disability. It helps to increase confidence and provides the opportunity to make friends and foster independence.”

She continued: “When it comes to employment, Lee is a shining example of what can be achieved when people are given a chance to show what they can do and when the right support is available. You can see the difference it has made to Lee’s life.”

Margaret works in partnership with a range of organisations including the disability employment service, Mencap and others to ensure that both the person seeking a placement and the organisation offering the placement work in tandem to get the best outcome from the placement. This has proved to be a rewarding experience for all parties.

For further information contact Margaret McDaid on: [email protected]