“My sister Nasima is our queen, we make everything special for her, we treat her very special “While talking to Mumtaz Begum (40) at Carmen wharf-APASEN head office, the confidence, the notion, treating her differently able sister and sharing her views as well has paved the way towards positive changes not only her surroundings around in U.K but also in Bangladesh. She is positive and a mentor also towards to those who faces difficulties to deal along with learners with disabilities. She feels that at the end how do you deal with and treat them as well that can make the issue a positive challenge but not a burden.
My current fellowship is being granted by “Charles Wallace Trust” Bangladesh chapter U.K and nominated by British Council Dhaka has paved the way towards the understanding of working with an organization as a learning observer based on “Youth Engagement ‘to compare the situation in U.K and Bangladesh where the clients are mostly Bangladeshi origin ethnic minorities as well. The two months has shaped the ways of hope, aspiration and new vision to share the ideas in Bangladesh as well. APASEN, a charity working for the people with learning disability for the past 27 years in London and from 2014 onwards in Bangladesh also, especially in Dhaka and Sylhet, whereas they already started working with “Parents Forum for Differently Able”. It was started in 1984 by a group of British Asian parents with children at special needs school in London who met regularly to support each other and share experiences.
“We will continue to promote the concept of personalization- ensuring our clients are in control of the care they receive and that we are innovative, flexible and responsive to their changing needs while maintaining high standards in all aspects of our work”-while talking to the chief executive Mahmud Hasan, MBE, shared his views for future.In consultation with the client and their family, they design a personal care plan and rigorously adhere to UK government standards of quality and safety. The majority of care visits are to provide help with personal care-bathing and dressing, getting up and going to bed, and assisting with medication where people are connected to their communities by accompanying them on regular visits to the local shops, leisure centre, and help with personal errands. Right now APASEN is the only BME service provider of it’s kind in South of the Capital, Croydon. It is specially supporting Asian and BME adults with learning disabilities. They are mainly from India, Pakistan, and Nigeria apart from Bangladeshi origins. A bondage and sensible relation in between 65 years old John a support staff along with young learner Ameer, Pakistani origin British does give a clear view that “ Caring is Sharing” and you never know from where it can move on. Zara is very keen in cycling, shopping whereas Palak does spend her time to learn numeric values. Sofia is an ultimate leader of the center which does not show anywhere she is facing the challenges of learning disabilities. They have well trained workforce, who have a wide range of relevant language skills including Arabic/Somali and Mauritian.
It offers culturally and faith sensitive services and provides the following services amongst others: IT classes, Numeracy and Literacy, Outdoor and Indoor Sports, Travel Training, Cooking, Gardening, Day Trips, religious awareness, yoga, Gym , dance, music, cycling, cricket, football, outdoor and indoor games and cycling as well. Apasen’s specialist Youth services is a new and unique youth club based approach that was launched in April 2013 and the only dedicated service provider in Tower Hamlets borough for 13-25 year olds with mild to moderate SENs ( Special Education Needs) and LDDs ( learning Disabilities Disorders) in BRADY Center as well.Everyone is welcome where the they have created a safe ,stimulating environment where young people, who might have experienced bullying at mainstream youth clubs, feel included and can be themselves along with three specialist youth workers who run the club on Wednesday. They work with each young person to set personal goals and identify areas they want to improve on through club activities-such as cooking, computers, and arts and crafts, keep fit, boxing, social schools development, and outdoor trips. Participants are encouraged to achieve certified skills that have been identified as most beneficial for them including: speaking to more than three peers per session, taking part in group activities. In 2013-2014, they also ran two accredited courses in Improving Self-Esteem and Above Boxing ( a non contact boxing sport).”Till now 115 young people used the service at least once- with 60% attending at least five times”- while discussing about the prospects the project leader of Youth Club based activities, Karima shared the point. It does have the connected zone for children also on every Saturday.16 years old Ibrahim who does have passion for documentary, Sumaiya another teen does have passion for her origin Bangladesh, where she loves to visit every year. There is also collaboration along with National Autistic Society and council services such as the disabled children outreach.
The youth employment opportunities are another priority to be mentioned where three trained up youth with learning disabilities has been recruited by ASDA- a prominent super shop all over in U.K and introduced new Disability Employment Project-with learners engaging regularly in employment and social enterprise activities. Shahida ( 20) is one of the successful learners to be a part of APASEN Internship as well. Apart from these initiatives home based respite, residential respite, summer day trips and Saturday women’s respite is the other facilities to be mentioned.” Halima (37) from Pakistan is one of them who is residing in residential care home of APASEN Lodge, who enjoys her greater independence as she is encouraged to make her own decision as well as value the social interaction with other clients at meal times and during many activities.” Pamela Boney, Registered Manager of the lodge shared her view while discussing.
The vision and mission is right now engulfed under the shadow of rising questions regarding budget cut. “As much as £4.6bn has been cut from social care budgets over the past five years. Even before then, the funding was unrealistic – local councils were running scared of social care cost increases. They used to talk of the “graph of doom”, in which they plotted their funding against their social care spending. At some point over the next three decades – it varied according to geography – all the money would be swallowed up by care. But the fact is, different local authorities were responding with different degrees of creativity and ambition. There were councils who commissioned social care packages which simple arithmetic would have told them were insufficient to pay minimum wage salaries to the care workers. Charged with this, they would have pleaded impotence. What do you do, if the money simply isn’t there? You have to go with the lowest cost provider”.( Source: Guardian)But there were other local authorities beginning to insource, others still commissioning from social enterprises (like the Sandwell Community Caring Trust); councils committing openly to paying a living wage and that trajectory, had it been nurtured, would have led inexorably to a conversation about how to raise the money collectively, in order to be able to care collectively, where does APASEN stand? What is the 2020 vision to sustain in the long run? Whether the model can be successful implemented in Bangladesh as well whereas their recognition and focus is still now as Paraolympic medal winners? Can social enterprise base activities be a solution for sustainability? The last but not the least, the hardest truth is care giver job in U.K is still now low paid where the immigrants , asylum seekers and students are in a row to get in but how long that will be considered as it is now?
The writer is a Freelance Researcher, Charles Wallace Trust Fellow, President and Founder of BRIDGE Foundation