I was recently lucky enough to visit the Forward Day Centre, catering for people with learning disabilities and assisting them to make choices.
Forward has been operating for over 35 years now and has been registered as a charity since 1998.
Thought to have originally been formed by parents organising day trips, the centre has operated from locations in Gaywood, Kettlewell Lane and has now found a home at the Old School House, Millfleet (St Margaret’s Club) which was originally built in 1849, next to the Lynn Library.
The building, with its own character and history has been made greatly accessible for all, as has Forward’s Ezone factory unit, catering for the varied activities provided.
Further modernisation to Millfleet is also being developed with adjustments to support sensory integration.
Forward is run by a strong trustee board and management team, headed by Steve Fuller, has nearly 40 staff (consisting of full and part-time employees) complemented by valuable volunteers.
Training to ensure specialised, and well qualified staff is the norm, (facilitated by the College of West Anglia or Brooks and Kirk Health Care), and all are committed to improving and expanding the service, perhaps even to seven days a week.
Strong ties exist between Forward and many organisations, both local and national, and, of course, there is close cooperation with local authorities, care homes, social services, Norfolk Safeguarding, WNVCA and local businesses.
Some of the staff formed Friends of Forward to fundraise (I enjoyed the excellent Christmas Fair last year) enabling Forward to buy specialised equipment.
Forward tries to be flexible and delivers services where there is genuine demand.
There is support for members in employment, training, integration into society and enhancement of social skills – all very important to them.
Other activities include art therapy, furniture restoration, woodwork, T-shirt printing, cookery, horticulture, photography and decorating – and, by the way, items of wood furniture can be donated to the organisation for their furniture work. Contact Forward on 01553 776910, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.forwarddc.org.uk