A Thurrock Council initiative to support learning disabled people has been ‘Highly Commended’ at this year’s Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards.
The Personalisation and Choice commendation, which was announced at a ceremony on Wednesday (23 March), was awarded to the council for its work in developing Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions – the Community Interest Company (CIC).
The LGC Personalisation and Choice Award specifically recognises councils which offer residents greater involvement in the design and delivery of services.
The Community Interest Company was set up in 2006 with the aim of developing and supporting activities which benefit local people, particularly assisting those with disabilities to become active members of their communities.
The CIC has seven elected directors – all with learning difficulties – who have control over their own budget, with support from Thurrock Council.
Sunny Saini, one of the company directors, summed up the work he and his fellow directors are responsible for. He said:” We believe in disabled people being given the power to make choices and take control for themselves. We are in control – we don’t want to be told what to do, how to spend our money, or where to go. Although we are pleased to have been commended for this award, as I told the judges, it’s not about the prize – it’s about giving disabled people the outcomes they desire.”
Having recently purchased two houses and established their own offices on the 7th floor of the Thameside building in Grays, the directors are hoping to set up their own services, as well as take over ones currently run by the council. They have been supportive of the Marisco Hall project in Chadwell St Mary where, alongside council-run services, they support a group of disabled people to run a variety of activities for themselves.
Lorna Payne, Thurrock Council’s Corporate Director of Community Well-being, said: “We have completely changed the way we support learning disabled people, turning traditional thinking on its head and putting individuals back in control. We listen to all members of the learning disabled community, encouraging those who understand what it means to live with an impairment to direct and plan services.
“Through Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions, we have developed a best practice model which gives learning disabled people a voice, choice, support and purchasing power, and I am proud that the LGC has recognised the benefits of this scheme. Well done to everyone involved.”