Wisbech man with learning difficulties uses his love of football to help him achieve his personal goals

Paul with his model of Old Trafford

The determination of a Wisbech man with learning difficulties to achieve his personal development goals, backed by staff from the supported living service where he lives, is yielding great results.


Paul is a huge football fan, so staff at West Street in Wisbech have used that as a motivator in identifying which skills needed working on to give Paul access to new opportunities and greater independence.


Gemma Watson, who leads the team, said: “Since October last year when Paul joined us, we have been supporting him to learn to interact better with other people, and develop his independent living skills.


“With support, he decided he’d like to enrol for some activities at Facet College in March, and he now thoroughly enjoys going there every week to play footie and take part in art classes.”


Paul – a devoted Manchester United fan – has become the star goal-keeper for Facet Football Team, and regularly accompanies them to participate in tournaments in Cambridge.


And at his weekly art classes, Paul has had a great time making a papier-maché model of Man United’s stadium, Old Trafford (pictured).


Paul’s keyworker Anne-Marie O’Sullivan said: “Both these things have given Paul an enormous sense of achievement, as well as an opportunity to socialise and meet new people.


“Before he joined us he used to find interacting with others very challenging, but with the right support he has come on in leaps and bounds.”


To help Paul get started, staff took him to have a look at the college and find out about the different activities that might suit him, as well as supporting him with travel training. He continues to receive high levels of support but this is enabling him to develop his skills further.


West Street, run by award-winning care provider Regard, is a supported living service for people with learning disabilities and associated mental health needs. The service has recently been completely redeveloped and refurbished to offer self-contained accommodation in three two-bedroom flats and a one-bedroom flat. There are currently vacancies in each of the three two-bedroom flats.


Gemma and her team support the people who live at West Street to attend adult education courses like Paul, as well as to find supported employment and take part in other meaningful daytime activities to help them develop and maintain new skills in a friendly and supportive environment.


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