01 Jul

Wow, what a brilliant week to be a part of the New Bridge team – I have been involved with four performances of Shrek and two presentations for supported internship courses and I am sat here writing this blog absolutely beaming with pride!

As you know from my previous posts, we have been working on our New Bridge production of Shrek since Easter and our Lumenus performing arts pathway, based right here at Medtia Square, have taken on the leading roles..

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This week they have performed their outstanding production to 4 sell-out audiences, with over 500 people getting to see the show over the week. More than 80 young people from across the Group have taken part in the performances, 70 of them on stage performing live at each show! The young people have been supported by 45 staff who have worked tirelessly and given up their evenings to ensure that the young people have the best possible experience and all the support they need. I really am blown away by what we have achieved, the young people have worked so hard to learn their lines and songs, acting like true professionals and putting on a performance that will hopefully stay with them forever. We often talk about our New Bridge ‘family’ and this week that family has come together and worked as a team, really making a difference to the lives of our young people. There are too many people to thank to name them individually but to all the staff and young people who have worked on the show and read this blog, thank you and congratulations, you are all wonderful!! Here are a few pictures from our showbiz week…

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On Wednesday, our Future Finders had their presentation morning where families and employers were invited to celebrate the successes of our young people over the year. Each of our 5 students has achieved a Level 1 Employability qualification and all have a clear pathway into employment or volunteering as they move out of education and into an independent adulthood.

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I really was extremely proud of all of our students and I would like to take this opportunity to wish them the best of luck in the future – they are all destined for successful careers! I would also like to thank Nicola Kirkland and Margaret Taylor who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the students have been given the best possible opportunities over the past 12 months.

This blog is beginning to sound like an acceptance speech filled with thank yous for a Bafta Award, so I will move on to letting you know what the young people at Horizons have been up to this week whilst I have been up at school with the ‘luvvies’. Over at our Horizons hub at the Learning Centre, the young people have had fun baking raspberry and vanilla cheese cakes..

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..and have formed their own loud band in the music session..

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Liam has really enjoyed his rebound therapy..

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Emma’s group have once again been working alongside some of the young people who will be joining them in a few weeks’ time. They had a fantastic session at Ability Wheelz and Tuma particularly enjoyed her transition visit, taking part in her first ever adapted cycling session..

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James had a lovely visit out with Dawn this week to look at the diggers and trucks working away at the new cinema complex that is being built around the corner! They are becoming such regular visitors to the site that it won’t be long before James and Dawn are offered a job..

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Gary’s group have finally completed the hospital comfort packs this week – this has been such a massive, time consuming job but definitely worth all their hard work. A huge ‘well done!!’ to all the young people involved..

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This group have also continued to volunteer at the Link Centre café and Dr Kershaw’s shop in Oldham town centre. Adam has really enjoyed his till training at the Link Centre and has been learning how to use money and give the correct change..

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..while Daniel has been setting out displays in readiness for the day’s work..

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The group are really enjoying their work at the Link Centre and we are hoping to be able to open the café 5 days a week in the not too distant future.

Jeff’s group have had another busy week exploring local parks and cafés. They even treated themselves to a McDonalds, although sadly they didn’t bring anything back for me! They have welcomed Ben this week who will be joining the group soon.

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The group also had two parties this week to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday and to wish George a fond farewell..

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George is moving down South with his family and we would like to wish him well for the future. We will miss you!

As always, all the group had fun once again at their weekly dance sessions..

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My week ended at Manchester Metropolitan University where I was asked to be a guest speaker at their Bridging the Gap graduation ceremony. I set up a supported internship programme at MMU over 6 years ago. It was a pleasure to go along to this event and to explain the history of the project and to talk about some of the successes that we have had at New Bridge over the years via the Bridging the Gap and Future Finders courses. It is hard to believe that when I started at New Bridge 10 years ago, supported internships didn’t exist anywhere in the country. We now run 3 supported internship courses across Oldham and Manchester with 22 people on a programme from September. I look forward to what next year brings and to supporting another cohort of young people into employment and independent volunteering.

I hope that you have a lovely weekend. I shall be spending mine with my feet up and a large glass of vodka, recovering from a fantastic, eventful and slightly tiring week!

Daniel Wood
Future Finders Manager

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