Shadow Minister for Children and MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson spent the morning with a young man called Joe, at his home in Dinnington on Friday, 26th February.  Joe, who is 18 years old, has learning disabilities and receives support from national charity, United Response.

The Shadow Minister was accompanied by Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, which includes the Dinnington area.  Both MPs were keen to understand how tailored support, like that received by Joe, helps set young people with learning disabilities successfully on the road to adulthood.

This support mirrors a number of things that many 18 year olds are learning to master: managing money, basic cooking skills, cleaning the house, keeping up with laundry, managing college course work and travelling safely.

(From left to right) Amie Dobinson - development co-ordinator for United Response, Catherine McKinnell MP, Sharon Hodgson MP, Joe, Stacy Milner - service manager for United Response.

Stacy Milner, United Response Service Manager explained:

“Joe’s support is almost like having a big brother, we are there to guide and support.  Our philosophy within our transitions services is that all young people should have the opportunity to progress and to reach their potential in adulthood.”

During the visit Joe explained to Sharon and Catherine how the support he receives is really helping him succeed in his everyday life.  Joe talked about how much he likes his construction course, which he attends at the local mainstream college. His support team are currently exploring the possibility of Joe setting himself up as a freelance handy-man.  Like most 18 year olds, Joe’s social life, friends and house mates, are just as important as his college life.  Joe proudly showed the MP’s around his home that he shares with two house mates.   He also chatted with passion about his local rugby club, where he is a team member and player.

Sharon Hodgson MP, said:

“It was lovely to be welcomed into Joe’s home to gain a greater understanding of how the support by United Response can help young people succeed on their journey into adult life and be a part of their local community. I wish Joe all the success for the future and hope that more young people like Joe will be able to succeed with the support of United Response.”

Catherine McKinnell MP, said:

“It was a real pleasure to meet with Joe, and hear more about how the support he receives is helping him to grow into a successful adult. He’s a really impressive young man, and United Response are helping to give him the independence that every 18-year old rightly wants.”

As a national disability charity with over 40 years’ experience of transforming people’s lives, United Response is seeking to show how tailored support for young people with a learning disabilities removes many of the barriers they face on the journey from childhood into adulthood.    All too often the traditional support model involves young people attending special college, often located far away from a person’s community network.  United Response offers young people a combination of housing options, further education, social inclusion and employment opportunities all set within an individual’s local area.   Our work is specially designed to support young people to move on in life as well as being part of their community.