SoLO Drop-In Services Survey

Have your say!

SoLO’s Adult Services are for Adults (including those currently at college) with a learning disability diagnosis. We help them explore their potential by providing support in various ways, encouraging independence, and building friendship groups. 

This survey is for us to gather input and opinions from our members and potential service users regarding SoLO Adult (16+) Drop-in Services. We want to know what you would like to be seen within a new SoLO Drop-in Project. 

Click here to complete the survey

We encourage parents/carers to support with completing this where applicable. 

If you have any questions about completing the below survey before you begin, please email olivia.dance@sololifeopportunities.org 

Centurion Running Club raise £800 for SoLO

Centurion Running Club, based at North Solihull Sports Centre in Chelmsley Wood, raise £800 for SoLO as part of the club’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.

Last year Centurion Running Club challenged its members to collectively run 50,000km. The group smashed this target by October and by 31 December reached 59,000km. Funds were raised through sponsorship, donations, and the sale of the club’s 50th-anniversary t-shirts.

On behalf of SoLO, I’d like to say a massive well done and thank you to Centurion Running Club for supporting SoLO as part of their 50th-anniversary celebrations. Collectively running 59,000km is a fantastic achievement for all the runners involved and we’re really grateful to you all for raising money for us in the process“.

Lesley Beer, CEO

About Centurion Running Club

Centurion Running Club was started in the 1970s by John Walker as part of his mission to make running more accessible to the masses. The club now was over 100 members and they welcome runners of all abilities to join. The group meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 18.30 outside North Solihull Sports Centre. Learn more.

Solihull Chamber of Commerce raise £1,650 for SoLO

In January, members of Solihull Chamber of Commerce took part in a fundraiser for SoLO which challenged them to run, swim or walk 5k for 5 days.

Tony Elvin, General Manager Touchwood and Chamber President said:

“We have been delighted by the response from members of the public to support our fundraising for Social Life Opportunities. Running 25k in 5 days, in sub zero temperatures may have been hard work for our unfit bunch of Chamber fundraisers but it has been worth every minute and we know the charity will make great use of each penny raised. We are hugely grateful“.

Due to the energy, dedication and commitment of the Chamber and it’s members, along with the generosity of the public, the group have raised £1,650 for SoLO.

Lesley Beer, CEO of SoLO said:

“We’d like to say a big thank you and well done to Solihull Chamber of Commerce and all their members who took part in this fundraising challenge for SoLO. The amount raised will help support the running of our projects ensuring we can continue to help adults, children and young people with learning disabilities to flourish and thrive”.

Pictured: Amanda Holden (Committee member and Partner at The Wilkes Partnership), Tony Elvin (Chamber President and General Manager at Touchwood), Ian Rogers (Committee member and Owner of The Original Events Company), Samantha Frampton (Head of Solihull Chamber).

We’d like to extend a big thank you to all the challenge participants:

  • Tony Elvin – Touchwood
  • Samantha Frampton – Solihull Chamber
  • Ian Rogers – Solihull Summer Fest
  • Jas Rohel – On Your Radio
  • Kevin Johns – Prime Accountants 
  • Vijay Jogia – Metro Bank 
  • Amanda Holden – The Wilkes Partnership
  • Eileen Schofield – Schofield & Associates 
  • Emma-Louise Hewitt – Sydney Mitchell 
  • Kim Hulse – Visit Knowle 
  • Stuart Watson – Leap IT 
  • Namrita Sharma – Pink Spaghetti 
  • Susie Ankrett – Plum Personnel
  • Mick Westman – Digital Innovators
  • Rebecca Gater – Solihull College 
  • Lillian Elekan – Solihull Chamber
  • Andrew Cole – The NEC

Independent Living Programme

A 6-week course designed to provide 14-19 year olds with practical sessions that promote independence.

In January, 12 members joined us on our first Independent Living Programme, a course designed to help teach new skills and support independent living.

“I love coming because of the people here, making friends and cooking the food here with everyone else”.

Participant

Across 6 weeks, participants attend weekly sessions that take place at our Walnut Close base in Chelmsley Wood. Each session lasts 2.5 hours and during this time the group cover a new theme.

Themes covered include:

  • Money management
  • Personal hygiene
  • Travel training
  • Cooking and staying healthy
  • Relationships
  • Keeping safe at home

The course costs £37.50 per person and is suitable for individuals with mild-moderate learning disabilities. Attendance of all 6 sessions is mandatory and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If you’re interested in finding out more or would like to register interest for our next course please email Teri.evans@sololifeopportunities.org.

Solihull Chamber of Commerce Charity of the Year

We are delighted to announce that we have been nominated as Solihull Chamber of Commerce Charity of the Year.

Becoming Charity of the Year is fantastic news for SoLO as it will enable us to raise our profile within the Solihull business community as well as receive vital support from the Chamber’s fundraising activities, all of which will enable us to help facilitate further growth.

Jan Prior, chair of SoLO, said: “We’re so pleased and thankful to have the support of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce following a long, hard journey through a pandemic, when staff have gone above and beyond to ensure its members continue to receive their activities and breaks“.

Samantha Frampton, head of Solihull Chamber, said: “Solihull Chamber is incredibly excited to announce SoLO as its newest Chosen Charity. The aim of this partnership is to support charities doing meaningful and impactful work in and around the Solihull area and it is already clear from conversations with Jan that there is a lot of passion behind the work taking place at SoLO. We are very much looking forward to engaging the business community in supporting their mission to provide quality services for people with learning disabilities.”

The Charity of the Year partnership will run until March 2023.

SoLO awarded new contract by Solihull Council

We’re delighted to announce we’ve been awarded the contract by Solihull Council (SMBC) to deliver targeted community short breaks for children and young people with a disability. This enables us to continue to deliver fun, engaging and inclusive holiday and term time activities and projects for children and young people with learning and other disabilities across Solihull. 

As a leader in supporting children with disabilities in Solihull for over 20 years we have built a strong reputation for delivering a wide range of exciting and high-quality opportunities. The award of this contract ensures as a charity we can continue to deliver services that support children and young people with their physical and mental health needs giving them the opportunity to take control of their own lives by improving their confidence and emotional well-being so that they enjoy life and have positive self-identities.

Jan Prior, Chair, said: “I know first-hand how much SoLO supported my son and our family through offering him opportunities he was unable to access elsewhere and confidently gave me a chance to recharge my battery and have a short break to focus on time with my daughter during her formative years.  The Board of Trustees are incredibly pleased that SMBC have continued to recognise the value of short breaks and the outstanding service SoLO provides leading to the award of this significant contract for the benefit of our community.  It’s great to know others will experience what has been so valuable to us personally“.

Over the next few months we will take the time to review and refresh the current service offering, which means there will be no change to the current children’s activities and services provided until consultation with children, parents, carers, staff and other partners across Solihull has taken place.  

Through this review activities and projects will be assessed to ensure much loved activities are retained, whilst new innovative ideas are developed to reflect the world in 2022 and beyond and provide new opportunities for members and individuals accessing the services. 

There will be a review of assessments of children and young people to ensure activities are person centered and aligned to meet their needs and children and young people who haven’t yet had the opportunity to attend or join a SoLO activity will be encouraged to access the service and experience what SoLO has to offer. 

To deliver the specialist activities we will bring in support from the most appropriate organisations and professionals and will work with other local service providers to utilise their facilities and strengths to achieve the best possible delivery and outcome for all.

Lesley Beer, CEO said: “we are excited to continue working with SMBC and families/carers to deliver a vital service to the children and young people of the borough.  The importance of continuing service under this contract has significant impact on the provisions for children and young people with learning and other disabilities to ensure varied opportunities and inclusivity for all and we look forward to working with partners to shape this future“.

Celebrating our Heroes

Going above and beyond and getting stuck in to help others seems to be a thing these days – and we at SoLO are very grateful for that!

We are fortunate to have some amazing community partners who want to make a real a difference – and we are more than happy to celebrate them.

We love it when we receive donations as it enables us to buy those extras to support our members that we would otherwise struggle to find the ££ for.  But we love it even more when, all fired up with enthusiasm, folk are happy to literally roll their sleeves up and get hands-on with whatever needs doing because they know they are making a difference!

National Grid took on the challenge of our outside space at Walnut Close recently!  Ant and his team had a great day cutting back foliage and clearing the car park.  Then, not content with that, they came back with another team and did some heavy work in the back garden as well as clearing the patio and the surrounding areas, so everything is now spick and span and safe for our members to enjoy the outside. 

They were so enthused that even when some had to drop out on one of the days, one of their team was happy to do an extra day on his own – true dedication!

Thank you to our community partners who join our SoLO super-heroes – you have given us the gift of your time – which is precious to us all.

Reasons to be grateful

This pandemic has taught us a lot.  We have all had to face things that we would have preferred not to think about and have had to make difficult decisions of one kind or another.   It has been a year of so many conflicting scenarios and emotions – of uncertainty, of loss, of lack, of isolation, of challenge and of change.

But it has also taught us to be inspired, to think differently, to be creative, to take stock and to appreciate.

Because at the heart of it all, we are human and wish to survive and support each other through the bad and the good.

As we re-emerge and negotiate the next steps, we will need to build confidence, to build different, and build for the future.  It is a time to take courage and recognise that some things will not be the same – but that may not be a bad thing.

A group of people are outside enjoying the sunshine

SoLO Shortlisted in Chamber awards

We extremely excited to let you all know that SoLO has been shortlisted for the Solihull Chamber awards 2020. We are even more delighted that we have been shortlisted for two categories, Charity of the Year and Contribution to the Community. Of course, we are not alone in this and we want to congratulate those who have been shortlisted with us because we are all doing our very best for the community we all serve.
This is such a great acknowledgment of all the support we provide, particularly in the challenging times that we are all facing. SoLO, along with other charities and businesses in the community are keeping those we serve at the heart of what we do.
On behalf of us all – and particularly for those we support, we say a huge thank you to the Chamber for making all this possible. We are really looking forward to the online awards evening on the 15th October and cannot wait to be part of the big event.

Emerging from lockdown with a new look – and a new emphasis in our name.

We’re nearly there for welcoming more members back to SoLO – our planning continues to ensure everything is as safe as we can make it and like everyone in this strange world we’re all in at the moment, we’re cleaning and spacing for appropriate social distancing. Like many organisations, we’re facing the challenge of changing the way things can be done. We successfully enabled our children’s services to continue over the Easter holidays and now we’re re-introducing our adults’ opportunities in our new Pods. We’ve been contacting our members and further details will be sent out over the next couple of weeks. Our PA service has continued to run to support members in their homes and we have Personal Assistants ready and waiting for those who would benefit from additional support.

As you may know, before the lockdown we were most of the way through a review both of our website, and of how we present ourselves more generally. The review included asking members, their families and SoLO staff for their views. Lots of the replies suggested that our website should be as user-friendly, helpful and professional, as SoLO itself.

Since then, the lockdown period has brought home, quite distressingly in many cases, how hard it can be to go without meeting friends to work and have fun together. The need for a varied, interesting social life has been demonstrated, by its removal. This convinced the trustees that the time is right for a new emphasis in our name. We are still SoLO but, whereas SoLO has, for years, been short for SoLO Life Opportunities, we are changing that to Social Life Opportunities. As we offer services beyond Solihull we removed Solihull from our name a few years ago but it remained as part of our website address. We’re also now picking up on another point which featured strongly in feedback – an association that new people potentially think we’re an agency for single people.

Our new look is “live” now, though, because of lockdown, we are still not permitted to offer the full range of features on the website. One of the practical highlights – being able to book and pay for activities online – will be available as soon as we’re able to add it. Feel free to browse and to let us know what you do and don’t like about it (we’re bound to have got some things that need tweaking!).

We’ll continue to be in touch with you and we look forward to seeing you, as well as hearing from you, as soon as circumstances allow.

Partnership

It’s amazing what great partnerships can do!  We are very lucky at SoLO to have the support of some really great charity partners – and we all benefit!

As the season of goodwill approaches, we would like to show our appreciation and shout out a huge thank you to them all.

Our charity partners support us in so many ways – finding out what we’re all about, raising awareness on our behalf, spreading the SoLO word, and then gradually getting more involved as they journey with us.

From  in-house events to joining in with SoLO activities, by giving of their time and talents, spending time with our members and coming back for more – because they can see at first hand exactly why we do what we do – this is the stuff of making a difference to the communities we are all part of and forging lasting relationships – with memorable experiences for all.

Thank you to all our community partners – you’re all amazing and we couldn’t do what we do without you!

Community Spirit

Community spirit is never so palpable as when something happens to a member of that community which seems unfair or worse.   Although bad things happen, good often comes out of it, you find out who your friends are and you make some lovely new ones into the bargain!  Knowle Masonic Charity and the Smile Charity came up trumps when our recently acquired garden water feature went for a walk and Marston Green Lions have also responded and expressed interest in funding some new or replacement equipment that will support our members.    We are very grateful to them and to all those who help turn the bad news into good news with their responses.

We have been very fortunate to work with Knowle & Dorridge Lions for the past year as well and have had much fun along the way.  The recent presentation evening was a tribute to many unsung heroes who are doing amazing things for their own community and some of the youngsters in particular had made their mark in far flung communities with the aid of bursaries to help those less fortunate than themselves.  The lesson there is about valuing people for who they are and what they can achieve just by being their wonderful selves – and that is so true for our members with a learning disability.

Surprise Sunshine for SoLO

Letters can be lovely!  You never know what to expect in the post these days but this week we were thrilled and very surprised to discover that SoLO is to benefit from a legacy!  It seems that there are generous folk out there who wish to benefit charitable organisations in their endeavours and have found a way to support.   It is a wonderful boost to organisations such as SoLO trying to do the best they can for the families they serve.

What a difference a day makes – and what a difference we can make to the lives of our members and their families with such support.

We are very privileged to be the recipient of such generosity and we give thanks.

Community Partners

SoLO is very fortunate to have the opportunity to go out into the community and be part of amazing events in order that others are supported to do the things they do.

From a Solihull Radio spot to Smarties quiz evenings, from green token schemes to bike rides and fun runs to feeding people luscious cakes – the possibilities are endless!

We have some amazing partners at the moment who are getting behind us and getting involved in the various events we have going on – this is so great – as it spreads the SoLO word, gives people a different opportunity and – most of all – enables us to support our members to live the life they deserve.  At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about!

Huge thanks to everyone supporting us at the moment and if you are not already on board we would love to hear from you!

Dates for your diary:

  • 19th May: Knowle Fun Run
  • 9th June: Wren Hall Teas
  • 14th July: Heart of England Bike Ride

Thanking our current partners: Coventry Building Society, Knowle & Dorridge Lions, Smart Homes, Gro-Organic, HSBC, Solihull Moors, Mountain Warehouse, Sheldon Hall

SoLO in the Community

The Knowle Fun Run is fast approaching and the heart of England Bike Ride is not far behind!

Knowle & Dorridge Lions are doing a wonderful job but they can’t do it without their friends.  SoLO and Sepsis Trust are delighted to be partnering with them this year as they strive to  support their local community in the way they do best.

The Festive Walk, the Fun Run and the Bike Ride are annual events that bring together so many wonderful people going – literally – more than the extra mile so that others can benefit.

These events would not happen at all without the marvellous volunteer support that they attract – from the marshalls along the route, the water stations, the t-shirts, the numbers, the registrations, the course organisers – there are so many ways to get involved.

SoLO and Sepsis Trust have a marvellous opportunity to be part of these events this year – the Festive Walk was amazing – and we would love you to join us – the dates for your diary are: 19th May for the Fun Run and 14th July for the Bike Ride.  We would love to hear from you if you have a few hours to spare – come and be part of something amazing – for just a few hours, you can make such a difference!

Partnership – the way forward

There is always more than one way of doing things – and often two heads are better than one!

SoLO is very fortunate in having some great partners to work with – there are some amazing people out there who are working with us and supporting what we do – together we can make such a difference to our communities!  Just to highlight a little of what is happening in this area – but by no means exhaustive:

Screwfix Foundation came to visit us last week, following a successful application last year – liked what they saw – and offered us the chance to apply again – marvellous!

Knowle & Dorridge Lions value their charity partners to support them in their community endeavours so that they can do even more and make the funds go further.  Following the very successful Festive Walk back in December, we are now heading for the 36th Knowle Fun Run on 18th May when so many wonderful people will come together for the benefit of others – and SoLO is proud to be a part of it!

Equally the Dorridge Fun Run on 2nd June will be a shining example of a community coming together for an event that can be enjoyed by absolutely everyone.  We are delighted to be supporting this once again – marshalling along the route, serving much-needed refreshment and giving our members and supporters a chance to be involved  – what more could we want!

We are delighted to be associated with Solihull Moors who support so many of our members in their community activities and have named us as a charity partner with a view to even closer joint working to further support those disadvantaged in our community.  We look forward to the continuation of a fruitful relationship as we strive to support our members and their families in the best way that we can – together!

It has been said that the more you put in, the more you get out – and that is certainly true of partnership working – long may it continue – for the benefit of all!

Festive Fun-raising :)

As we move into 2019 – with its various challenges (known and unknown) to come, we at SoLO can be buoyed up with the festive spirit demonstrated to us by some wonderful community-minded individuals coming together in their own time to do their thing for others.  Whether it was dressing up in festive finery (bikes and selves!) to cycle in a good cause – or turning up in droves for the annual festive walk – SoLO has a lot of amazing people to be grateful for.

During 2018, Prime Accountants had already shown us the way to go by their sheer tenacity to go the extra mile to support others whilst challenging themselves at the same time.  Partnering with SoLO and Zoe’s Place over a two-year period they created several challenges and raised a staggering amount.  (I can tell you that a “space hopperathon” challenge is not to be taken lightly!)  We wish them well in their new partnerships for 2019 as we say a huge thank you to them from all of us.

  • Coventry Building Society organised a “Coventree” encouraging their customers do donate festive gifts as well as a Wonderland event where we were able to promote and raise £170
  • we received kind donations of festive selection packs from various organisations and individuals so that we could organise Christmas parties for our members, safe in the knowledge that Santa would have some help
  • Dynamic Rides, Hockley Heath, organised a festive cycle ride and raffle for us, raising a staggering £1000
  • the annual Festive Walk organised by Knowle & Dorridge Lions will have raised over £9000 for local causes, including their partner charities SoLO and The Sepsis Trust
  • Dorridge Methodist Church Christmas service collection donated £265
  • Solihull Care Housing Association donated £50 instead of sending staff Christmas cards
  • Explain Market Research donated £20 as SoLO had been nominated by one of their market research participants

Yes the sums raised have been amazing – but, equally so is the goodwill – the willingness and dedication of so many individuals who give their time to do something amazing for others – and have such fun at the same time.  And it’s not over yet!  We are lucky to have so many opportunities – to get involved, to support our members and to have fun at the same time.  If you would like to see what it’s all about, we would love you to join us for any of the following:

Friday 8th February – Murder Mystery Evening at Hogarths Hotel – come prepared for a night of mystery and intrigue, laughter and fun.  You’ll have the opportunity to question suspects in a murder investigation to solve the crime.  There will be twists and turns throughout the evening, along with prizes to be won from our raffle and auction – and finishing with a disco to dance the night away – what more could you want!   Click on the link to find out more www.eventsforce.net/solomurdermystery

Sunday 8th May – Knowle Fun Run – support SoLO by entering as a runner or volunteering as a marshal.   Further info from http://www.knowlefunrun.org.uk/

Sunday 2nd June – Dorridge Fun Run – we are delighted to be a partner charity again for 2019 and look forward to an amazing day.  You can choose to walk, run, cycle, marshal or help in the tea room.  Further info from http://dorridgefunrun.org/

For further information, contact Maria, Fundraising Co-ordinator on 0121 779 3865 or email her on  m.brown@solihullsolo.org.  She will be delighted to hear from you.

Thank you and look forward to what’s in store to ensure SoLO can support existing and new members.

Christmas Greetings

This will be my last blog as the CEO of SoLO as I retire at the end of the month.  Each year, for probably the past 15 years, I have inflicted one of my dreadful poems onto my staff at Christmas.  This year I have asked a much more gifted Poet, Joe Down, to craft a fitting poem to reflect on my 18 years of working with SoLO and here it is:

The SoLO Christmas Tree

It started small some years ago,
Strong and proud but yet to grow,
A spark of life in fallen snow
Roots pushed deep into the earth below
And forward came, from local lands
Kind hearts, and souls with gentle hands
Who lifted from dusty boxes and shelves
Baubles and tinsel, and reindeer and elves.
And hung those few gifts upon that small tree,
In pride of place for the world to see,
And when each year they returned they found,
More decorations gathered round,
And more kind hands to place them true,
Upon the boughs and branches new.
So on it went, and on it goes,
through summer sun and winter snows,
Through autumn rain and springs first dew,
The decorations came, and the tree? It grew.
And though some kind hands and hearts and souls,
Moved on, were lost, or just grew old,
More would lift the gifts in turn,
And from the old, the young would learn,
The same simple message they bore
Our Christmas tree always has room for one more.

I wish all of the staff, volunteers, members and supporters of SoLO a very Happy Christmas and New Year. 

Janet Down MBE

Fundraising Fun with our supporters

Coventry Building Society had to cancel their Winter Wonderland event at the RICOH Arena on Sunday because of the weather conditions which was such a shame – but they are not downhearted.  They are back on the fundraising trail for SoLO today – making up sweet cones to sell in branch.  Huge thanks to Sue and her team for all their support this year – we really appreciate it 🙂

Festive Fun

The fun you can have in SoLO!  Today I was delighted to join Lion Paul Wheatley and Paula Evans from Sepsis Trust to kick start this year’s Festive Walk which will be held on Thursday 27th December at Baddesley Clinton.  Come and walk off the Christmas pud and bring your family and friends!  You will be supporting SoLO and Sepsis Trust and other local causes will also benefit.

This is an annual event run by the Knowle & Dorridge Lions and there will be mulled wine and mince pies to reward you!  There are several routes so if you don’t feel like the 8 mile hike, you have 3 other choices from a mile and a half upwards..

Half the proceeds will go to Lions causes and the other half will be split between Sepsis Trust and SoLO so we are very grateful to the Lions and look forward to a wonderful day.

Volunteers always needed to support the day and if you are walking, put 27 December in your diary now and visit www.knowleanddorridgelions.com/walk for more details and to download a free registration form to complete and bring with you.

Fundraising Partners and Heroes

We are delighted to be involved with, and enjoy the support of, all of these organisations and more.