The Kent Learning Disability Partnership Awards were held in the Stone Hall at County Hall in Maidstone on Tuesday (October 13).
They were presented by Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter alongside Sam Holman, joint chair of the Kent Learning Disability Partnership Board and was assisted by Daniel Hewitt, shadow joint chair of the board.
Now in their second year, the Kent Learning Disability Partnership Board handed out the awards to people, businesses and services which have gone above and beyond in supporting and improving the lives of people with learning disabilities.
The first award went to Neil Smith and Paul Coulson, both managers at Serco and work at the QEQM hospital in Margate. They were given the employer of people with a learning disability award.
Their nomination spoke of the “tireless support” to young people with a disability in a work environment. Neil and Paul set up a number of different initiatives including assisted apprenticeships and internships.
The Citizenship Award went to Beyond Words Reading Champions, a group of 14 volunteers who hold meetings in Kent libraries.
The group helps build confidence in people’s reading skills.
The Supporting People With Learning Disabilities Award went to two winners – Steve Perry, the project leader for music and arts for the Skillnet Group; and East Kent Mencap.
Steve has worked to develop and run music, arts and media courses that help adults with learning disabilities develop their technical, social and academic skills.
He has also established a regular Sunday morning radio show The Audiobox on Dover Community Radio. The programme is planned, produced, directed and presented by people with learning disabilities.
East Kent Mencap provides opportunities and choices in the east of the county for people with learning disabilities. It helps them achieve the things they want out of life and to be valued, treated equally, listened to and included.
Among those nominated for East Kent Mencap were Emma Croucher, Tristan Kennedy, Chris Porter, Della Heaton, Matt Lebon, Tim Birchley, John Nuttall and all managers and support staff at Arkley Road in Herne Bay. Collecting the award was Jason Gerlack, CEO of East Kent Mencap.
The fourth award went to Lorna O’Shea who has provided accommodation for people with learning disabilities for 25 years. She is on call 24 hours a day and gets her tenants involved in the running of the property, allowing them control over their lives.
The People’s Award went to Tanya Post, the joint chair of the Thanet District Partnership Group.
She has played a leading role in encouraging people with learning disabilities to register to vote and has shared her experience in promoting voting with others from all over the country.
The final award was the Helping People Stay Healthy Award and was presented to Dr Ken Adegoke.
Dr Adegoke is a consultant anaesthetist at the East Kent Hospital Trust who has shown commitment and determination to find a way to deliver healthcare to people with severe challenging behaviour who were refusing all other forms of treatment.
Without this work, these people were at high risk of developing a serious illness.
KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health Graham Gibbens said: “These awards were all about celebrating the wonderful work that goes on around the county in supporting people with learning disabilities.
“I’m glad that Kent County Council was able to recognise the companies, services and people who go the extra mile to help give people with a learning disability more choice, improved independence and access to their communities.
“By highlighting these achievements, I hope it will encourage others to look at what they can do to support people with a learning disability in their community.”