I recently visited not-for-profit social enterprise ‘People Matters’, an organisation providing opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism to gain independence and expand skills through social groups, learning courses, and one to one support. Through meeting others and engaging in activities they love, members of People Matters are able to grow in independence and confidence. While the project is based in Holbeck, their work gathers people from right across the city and it is estimated that they support around 150 people in total.
The vision of People Matters is clear: to reach each person they support in the way that works best for them as an individual. And when I was invited to visit a couple of the learning courses they run this could not have been more evident. These courses range from beauty, health and wellbeing to cooking and managing finances, and of the nineteen courses on offer, I was lucky enough to visit two of them.
The first of these was an IT skills course supported by the Leeds library and information service through Leeds City Council, who provide a bus fitted with computers for the team to use.
The idea of this course is to expand on the basic computer literacy course offered by People Matters. The group is currently working on a newsletter with the hope that this will become a regular update of what’s going on at People Matters. In the past the newsletter has been written by the organisation’s directors, but the vision behind this IT course is to create a newsletter written by those who know first hand the help and support that these projects provide.
From visiting the groups it’s clear that the impact of these courses runs far deeper than just once a week contact and the teaching provided. Speaking with one of the girls from the IT course about about her involvement at People Matters, she spoke with such life about the ‘Flash Dance’ class and ‘Managing Emotions’ course she also attends and the people she’s met through People Matters. She explained that she often gets upset but that when she’s at People Matters this happens less, and when it does she can talk to someone about it. I can’t think of a better testimony to the work they do than that.
The second class I visited was the ‘Art Matters’ course, run by an art therapist employed by People Matters, and offering a different craft activity each week. On my visit they were making autumnal paper wreaths using leaves they had collected from around the offices. One member told me about his love for comics, as we cut out leaves in orange and red for his wreath. He also attends the People Matters ‘Literacy, Word Masters’ course where he’s able to use the time working on the comics that he loves. There is something beautiful and simple in his story in the way People Matters makes space for people to do what they love and to bring their own personalities to the projects they work on.
This is just a small insight into some of the work of People Matters, but if you know anyone who you think could benefit from any of the services they provide then please get in touch for more information. There’s plenty going on and someone from the team will be able to give you more advice on courses and support options.
You can also find out more through their Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/People-Matters-Leeds/272817769443741 or follow them on twitter @PeoplematterLds.
People Matters are always looking for volunteers, so if hearing about the work they do has made you want to get involved then you can contact them through the details given on their website: http://peoplemattersleeds.co.uk.
The team is also currently looking for individuals to fill a few more specific volunteer roles. They are looking for someone to take on some of the administration in the People Matters office, and also for someone with some background in HR. As People Matters is not a registered charity, fundraising can be a challenge, and so they are also looking for someone who would be able to help with fundraising as they are still reliant on donations and funds to continue the work they do. If you think you could give some time to work with them in either of these areas then they would love to hear from you.