Ilkley Community Enterprise, which runs the Outside The Box Cafe, is putting on a packed programme of activities to highlight the achievements of people with a learning disability.
Learning Disability Week runs from Monday 19th June to Sunday 25th June, with the aim of promoting the achievements and talents of people with a learning disability and raise awareness of the myths and misconceptions that can often impact them.
Ilkley Community Enterprise chief executive Louise Hale says: "Through Outside the Box, and our other services, the charity supports over 60 adults and young people with a learning disability each week. We focus on helping our clients to lead more independent and fulfilling lives, enabling them to achieve their ambitions and to be active members of the local community. Challenging the myths about what having a learning disability actually means is a constant part of our work.
“It is great to be able to use the Learning Disability Week national campaign to showcase the many talents, abilities and achievements of our clients and to recognise the terrific work being done locally by lots of individuals and organisations.”
Plans for the week include displays of some of the fabulous creative work produced by members from Outside the Box running at The Grove Bookshop and The Arcade on South Hawksworth Street, a pop-up performance of the OTB Music Group at Ilkley’s Bandstand on Wednesday 21st June at 10.30am, a volunteer event and spotlights with local employers who are leading the way in providing work opportunities for people with a learning disability.
Mike Sansbury, Manager of The Grove Bookshop, said: "As part of our celebrations for Independent Bookshop Week we have invited our friends from Outside the Box to create a window display in the shop. We are thrilled to be working with them, and it's particularly relevant as next week is also Learning Disability Week. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the demands of living with a learning disability as well as highlighting creative talent and the wonderful and vital role of independent bookshops in our communities.”
Emma Rogers from Outside The Box said: “We are immensely proud of the achievements of all our clients. Having the support of the whole town would make such a big difference, whether that is local people coming to our inclusive Community Café, volunteers giving their time and expertise or local businesses and other employers opening up opportunities for people with a learning disability. It is about us all doing our bit to recognise and support all the talents in our community.”
One of the main issues the charity has highlighted is the importance of paid work for people with a learning disability. Most people with a learning disability can and want to work as long as they are given the right opportunities and support.
Outside the Box has already successfully linked with many local employers, including for example Booth’s supermarket, Moss and Moor Garden Centre, Marks and Spencer, Broadleys Bistro and the Kings Hall, to tackle this issue. Now they want to do more and are asking local employers to show their support by signing up to the OTB Employer Charter, to show their commitment to expressing their commitment to helping to get more people with a learning disability into work, whether or not they have suitable job vacancies currently.
Michael Miller, the owner of local garden centre, Moss and Moor and a big supporter of the OTB Employer Charter, says: “When we opened in February 2021 we made a conscious decision to employ people with learning disabilities and have developed a great relationship with Outside the Box. The individuals we have employed have added so much to the business. They have developed new skills, grown personally with us and have contributed significantly to the working environment and culture of Moss & Moor. It has been both a pleasure and a huge benefit to the to have them on board.”