Time to Talk: the power of small

Time to Talk Day took place on the 4th February 2021 and was an opportunity for us at PiP to open up the conversation around mental health and how the power of small can make a huge difference for both staff and students.  Time to Talk is organised by Time to Change and is a campaign to change the way people think and act about mental health problems.

During the event, we reflected on the challenges we’ve all faced during the coronavirus pandemic and what hidden gems have helped to bring joy and support to us during this time.

At PiP, we understand the value of having time to talk. Many of our sessions already focus on health and wellbeing. We have a weekly Social Wellbeing group, as well as weekly Women’s and Men’s groups which gives students the opportunity to discuss emotional and mental wellbeing in a supportive peer group.

Our Time to Talk event started by reflecting on the challenges of 2020. What has been hard for both staff and students is the uncertainty. We can’t predict when lockdown will end, or when we can go back to face to face services. Student Rep Shardonnay shared that she misses the energy that she gets from the other students “I miss seeing the other students. They are a crazy bunch but I like them!”  Pam misses working towards the annual Drama performance. She most misses “helping out and welcoming people”. Lydia misses her closest friends and had some great ideas for keeping in touch and reaching out to her friends to support them and herself. 

We all agreed that appreciating the small can help us get through – whether that be NOT bingeing our favourite TV programmes but spreading them out over the week, rediscovering our local park, or using this time to learn new things. One thing is for sure, looking after our mental health at this time is something that is important for both staff and students. Thanks so much to PiP students Pam, Lydia and Shardonnay, and PiP staff Naomi, Karina, Claire, Cheski and Sam for sharing their thoughts and feelings.

For more about how to support yourself and others at this time, you can find helpful tips on the Time to Change website and MIND website.

A day in the life of Lauren, Fruitful Trainee and Makaton expert

This week we had the pleasure of chatting to Lauren, who has been at PiP for 10 years. Lauren told us all about herself, her experiences at PiP and what she has been up to on what is arguably the best day of the week – Friday!

Hi Lauren! Thanks for chatting with us today. We’d love to hear a little about what a typical day looks like for you as a PiP student. Can we start by talking about your morning routine?

Lauren: Hello, every morning I get up at 6am. That’s when my mum wakes me up. Once up, I get ready, have breakfast and then travel into PiP for 10am.

Great, and what did you do first today – once you got into PiP?
Lauren: Today began in employment. We were making plans for Fruitful.

Amazing. Fruitful wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful if we didn’t have hard workers on the team planning for future events! As one of the original members, you must have a favourite juice flavour? Lauren: Yes, my favourite flavour is orange and carrot.

Delicious. How long have you been working with Fruitful now? Lauren: I’ve been part of the Fruitful team since their first year. I’ve worked on the stalls many times, which I really enjoy.

After you spent some time planning for Fruitful, what did you do next?
Lauren: I had lunch. Today I had a sandwich, yoghurt, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Sounds healthy! And what did you do after lunch?
Lauren: After lunch I went to a Makaton session. I’m trying to get better at it.

We know you are already very good at it!

Lauren: Sometimes I teach my friend from primary school some Makaton that I have learnt at PiP.

Sounds like great practice, and I’m sure they appreciate it! What do you do after Makaton?

Lauren: I have free time next. I will probably listen to music with my headphones. After free time I will be going to a Living Skills session.

What do you learn in this session?

Lauren: I learn skills for being independent.

That’s super important. What kind of independence skills have you been learning lately?
Lauren: I’ve been learning how to get transport by myself. I live fairly close to PiP but I still need to get a train and a bus. I can do this by myself now – it takes about 30 minutes.

That’s great – definitely a valuable life skill to have. So, tell us – what is your favourite PiP session?

Lauren: My favourite session is Fruitful.

We’re not surprised! It’s pretty popular amongst all the students.
Lauren: Yes, I’ve been at PiP for quite a long time – and Fruitful is still my favourite.

Thanks Lauren, this has been a really fun chat. Before we go, why don’t you tell us what you’re up to tonight (Friday) and the rest of the weekend? Lauren: Tonight I will probably have tea and then relax. This weekend I will see some of my family.

Thank you Lauren!

To find out more about Fruitful and our work, check out www.fruitfulproject.org.uk

Hello from Narjis, one of PiP’s top Fruitful trainees.

For anyone who is unfamiliar, Fruitful is a mouth-watering initiative from Pursuing Independent Paths (PiP). It provides a brilliant way for our students – adults with learning disabilities and autism – to gain super valuable life, vocational and communication skills – whilst getting actively involved in the community.

Fruitful follows a structured training programme designed to give trainees experience in customer service, hygiene, juice preparation, marketing and money skills. It’s a fantastic way for PiP students to showcase their talent and prove to the world that they can be a valuable asset to any organisation as a paid employee.

Meet the Trainees

Today, we got the opportunity to chat with a member of the team. Narjis has been at PiP for six years and she kindly fit some time in her busy Friday schedule – in between Fitness, lunch, Makaton and a Student Social! – to fill us in on all things Fruitful.

For Narjis, Fruitful is all about raising money for PiP and learning new juice recipes (her favourite is a classic apple). She’s learnt lots about preparing ingredients for juicing – including safe ways to chop fruit and veg.

As part of her Fruitful training, Narjis also learnt about what flavours work well together. Fruitful introduces trainees to new recipes, ingredients and processes, so that they can create popular products at NYGoodHealth that sell (and keep customers coming back for more…!)

Narjis is a big fan of the outdoor markets Fruitful attends. She particularly enjoys handing out leaflets and chatting to passers-by – as this provides an opportunity to make conversation and bring in more funds for PiP.

A key element of Fruitful involves learning to handle money responsibly. This means being able to confidently give the correct change and use the credit card machine. Narjis explained that working with money was something she particularly enjoyed about Fruitful – as she likes knowing that she’s making lots of money for PiP!

In the future, Narjis can imagine working in a job that involves helping people. She likes being out and about – maybe working in a market or a café – as this would combine her people skills with her knowledge of juice making and flavours. Like us, Narjis is keen to get back out into the community with Fruitful as soon as we can.

Thanks so much for your time Narjis!

Fruitful is always on the move – serving thirsty customers at offices, workplaces, community events, street markets, business events and parties. It’s a bit harder to do right now but we have some COVID safe ways of working. If you’d like to find out more about Fruitful or book one of our popular trolley services or pop-up stalls, get in touch with a member of the PiP team today!