Supporting disabled people in Kent
Compaid provides a range of practical services, using information technology and other resources, to enable disabled adults and children in and around Kent to maximise their social, creative, learning and employment opportunities.
Compaid provides a range of practical services, using information technology and other resources, to enable disabled adults in Kent to maximise the social, creative and learning opportunities within their lives.
We aim to ensure that every disabled person in Kent can play an equal part in Society and achieve his or hers aspirations.
* To ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our current and future disabled clients
* To improve public awareness of our work and engagement from key stakeholders
* To ensure that our staff and volunteers are appropriately supported and developed
* To strengthen our finances and diversify our income streams
* To become a key player in the voluntary sector within Kent
Picture above shows Compaid's Chief Executive, Stephen Elsden.
"Compaid has become a highlight of my life".
This is a recurring comment I have heard from disabled clients, volunteers and staff since I joined the Charity earlier this year.
The fact that we have made such an impact on so many is a testament to the relevance of our work to disabled people. And it is to ensure this continuing relevance that we are now embarked on an ambitious three-year strategy.
The needs of disabled people to be equal players in society, maximising their social, economic and creative potential, has never been greater. In Kent alone, there are an estimated 40,000 adults unemployed due to their disability. We must greatly extend and develop our core services if we are to meet this need, and we cannot do it alone.
Partnerships with local government, voluntary groups, companies and individuals are central to our success. Whether you are new to Compaid or an exisiting supporter, I hope that you will want to join us in our journey to support the potential of disabled people throughout the county.
Our Commitment to the individual
It is easy to take computer technology for granted, such is its impact on our daily lives. Yet, for many disabled people, computer skills have been hard to come by, or have been lost due to an accident or illness.
The people who attend our Activities Centre have a chance to learn or regain these valuable skills and put them to practical use. Some of our clients have memory problems, and producing an electronic diary with digital photos is a way of capturing their experiences forever. For other individuals, computer skills have helped with their creative expression, both in writing and in producing original works of art.
A regular programme of assessments ensures that clients' needs and aspirations are continually being met. Many clients go on to take up full or part-time employment with local companies, charities and other organisations. Others have gained public recognition through publishing books and contributing to local art shows.
We aim to develop three new day activities each year, between 2010 and 2012 to meet the needs expressed to us by existing clients, and to attract other disabled people to the Centre.
While a large number of clients enjoy coming to our Activities Centre for the mentoring, encouragement and social interaction they receive there, many more benefit from our support in their own homes or in other locations, such as day centres and care homes.
The therapies we offer through computer software, especially adapted computers and hardware and musical tools, do much to improve the confidence of individuals and enable them to access other services within their local community.
One aspect of our outreach support offers therapy utilising Soundbeam technology. This enables people with very little physical control to create original music through the smallest of movements. We are now working with some clients to record this music so that other people can enjoy it.
Very often, the disabled people we support have no idea of the wealth of opportunities that technology can offer, but once they learn there is simply no stopping their ambition. We have seen increased demand from many organisatons, including Leonard Cheshire Disability and AARRC, and we are currently planning ways to provide support to even more people throughout Kent.
We hope to establish a high street outlet in Tunbridge Wells or the surrounding area, where disabled people will be able to drop in to receive computer support and assistance, and provide design and print services to the public.
Enjoying an independent life is the aspiration of most disabled people. Many are now directly employing their own care and support staff, using funds made available to them from Kent County Council.
However, managing the payroll of staff and other benefits can be difficult, and this is where our own Payroll Service provides vital assistance.
As well as calculating salaraies and tax deductions, we process and submit annual Tax and National Insurance returns. This payroll support is made available to over 80 individuals and a growing number of organisations, such as Tunbridge Wells Citizens Advice Bureau and Voluntary Action Maidstone.
A recent extension of our payroll service has been an arrangement with Kent County Council to enable our clients to pay with the Kent Card. This debit card allows individuals to pay for goods and services related to their care out of a dedicated personal account, which is funded and overseen by the Council. We were one of the first organisations in the county to offer this service.
Independence for our clients is also supported through our design and print service, where a number of people attend our Activities Centre work on projects for companies and other organisations. These range from designing stationery and business cards, to printing newsletters and posters. Clients are involved at each stage of the job, from design to proof reading, printing and despatch, and gain valuable vocational experience at the same time.
As more disabled people in Kent are given direct control over their personal support, we plan to provide a brokerage service to advise current and future clients on the range of support options available in the local area.
Accessible Transport Services
Our Transport Service provides a vital lifeline to many of the clients who attend our Activities Centre, and to thousands more disabled people within Kent each year.
Journeys vary from hospital and clinic visits, to shopping expeditions and larger outings to the coast, local attractions and theatre trips. Much of our work in this area supports other local charities such as Headway, for whom we manage an accessible vehicle and take clients on weekly outings, and Age UK, who have recently added an extra day to our contract.
With a fleet comprising of both accessible minibuses and smaller adapted vehicles, we can provide for any transport need, and our vehicles cover over 140,000 miles each year on journeys that our clients cannot make by public transport.
We also run the popular Kent Karrier service within Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling on behalf of Kent County Council. In the last year, this provided almost 3,000 shopping trips for clients who would be otherwise unable to obtain groceries and other essential goods. Our contract for this service has recently been renewed until 2014.
We want to offer accessible transport to disabled people at evenings and weekends, which will require further funding and staff hours to provide a regular and dependable service.
Our services are delivered by a hard working and dedicated team of staff, and supporting them is an ever growing network of Compaid volunteers. These volunteers give up their time to assist at our Activities Centre, accompany clients on outings and other journeys, and help to raise funds locally to continue our work.
In the last year we have recruited a Volunteering Manager to co-ordinate this vital area and recruit more people from the surrounding community and, as a result, we currently have support from almost 40 volunteers. These individuals volunteer for a total of 200 hours a week, or the equivalent of five full time paid staff over the course of our last financial year.
Volunteers come from all walks of life, and one successful partnership we enjoy is with Blantyre House, a local prison. A number of prisoners have helped out at our Activities Centre and, through this experience, have gained valuable social and vocational skills to help with their release into society.
During volunteers week, we took part in a public exhibition on volunteering at Trinity Theatre in Tunbridge Wells, and held a volunteer thank you party at our Activities Centre. We are now providing more support for volunteers through a dedicated handbook and a regular briefing note which is sent to our staff.
We aim to increase the contribution of volunteers even further, recruiting more people to assist with our Transport Service and to form local fundraising groups.
Voluntary donations provide essential funding for many of our services, from outreach support to developments within our Activities Centre. We need around £100,000 in fundraising income each year to maintain our current support to disabled people in Kent, and must raise even more than this to fund our planned future developments.
Along with support from very many charitable trusts and foundations, we have continued to receive funding from companies such as The Pearl Group, Waitrose, N M Rothschild and Sons, Badenoch & Clark and Aegis Group to name a few.
In the coming year we hope to forge deeper relationships with these and other companies, to both increase voluntary income and provide desability training for their staff.
Fundraising volunteers within our friends of Compaid Group continue to make a significant contribution, holding regular events and sales to raise funds and local awareness. This helps us to achieve fundraising success in schemes such as Waitrose Community Matters scheme and the Courier newspaper's Heart of the Community Awards, which call on customers and readers to vote for their chosen charity.
We need to increase our voluntary income by at least £25,000 each year to fund new services for disabled people, and will be organising local events to attract more donors.
To find out more, please get in touch with us by:
Calling 01892 617171 or
Or write to Compaid, Culverden Stadium, culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. TN4 9SG
To make a donation to Compaid,
please click here
Click here to read some personal stories from some Compaid clients and a Compaid volunteer.