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Chris Chats – Connect in the North and Through the Maze

February 22nd, 2024

Chris’ Chats- Connect in the North and Through the Maze

Watch online here or read the transcript:

CC: Hello and welcome back to Chris’ Chats. I would like to welcome our guests Vicky and Tania, welcome to you both!
V: Hi!
CC: Hi!
T: Hi!
CC: Hi! So, Vicky and Tania, in turn can you please tell me what your roles are in Connect in the North?
V: Hiya, I’m Vicky and I’m the chair of Connect in the North and I just keep a check on what they’re all doing, make sure they’re doing their job and just making sure that everything goes okay.
T: So, my names Tania and I work for Through the Maze and my official job title is Training, Information and Support. So basically, I cover quite a lot of stuff. So, I cover, um, also cover the website and then I also do a bit of other roles and I also do training, with Sarah, as well.
CC: So, Vicky, can you tell us a little bit more about Connect in the North, please?
V: Connect in the North is an organisation that is run by people with learning disabilities to run their own life. At Connect in the North we do all sorts of fun things. We have a board of directors that meet once a month so we can talk about what’s going on in the company and the organisation. And we do different types of training for people with learning difficulties to come and also for carers, we also do other types of training for workplaces, for like carers and stuff to go on. And person-centred planning and bits like that as well.
CC: Can you tell me about Through the Maze please?
T: So, Through the Maze is an information and signposting services for people with learning disabilities.
CC: Can you elaborate and tell me what Through the Maze do?
T: So, we are an information and signposting services so somebody like a carer will ring up and um, if they take care of their daughter or somebody else who wants something to do during the week. So, we can help find them something to do, and probably refer to whatever they want to do and then they’ll end up doing the service.
CC: So, can you tell me about your favourite opportunities has been?
T: So, my favourite opportunities for people with learning disabilities is some of them get to do, um, with Connect in the North, some of them get to do a training. Cause some of them, some people with learning disabilities have been on a, um, training course called My Life, My Way and they really, um, really enjoy it. And there’s one what Sarah’s run last year on building friendships and um, out of doing the course some of them have got to know people and they really enjoyed it as well.
CC: For disabled people, why are these services so important?
V: It’s important for people with learning difficulties can go on different types of training and learn more things and find more fun things to do in Leeds. Like, tonight, there’s the Pop World Club Night for people with learning difficulties to go on. So stuff like that. Or other organisations that might run courses and days out and stuff like that. They might build life skills and do future college courses or getting out and about or meeting new friends.
CC: Same question to you, please, Tania.
T: So basically, if someone’s stuck at home, they may go on the Through the Maze website there’ll probably be something on there like a cooking course or doing friendship group. They have some at Leap1, so you go on there and kind of refer them there, and you get to do your food and hygiene safety and then once you’ve done it, it might lead on to getting employed and then you have your own job, and you have your own freedom. And then preferably you get to do what you want with your own money.
And also, if there are stuff that isn’t in easy-read we’ve got a really good member of staff that’s really good at putting some stuff in easy read. So, people normally like with the Through the Maze newsletter some people normally, like, send us some stuff to um, put in the Through the Maze newsletter and it’s really important as there’s all this stuff that people may want to do that’s during the week but its not in easy read format and it’s much important for organisations to put stuff in easy read because I could be someone that’s like stuck at home and wants to go and do something, like, I’ve been at Leep1 or volunteering somewhere else but it’s just that I might not know where it is and what days they do it and everything else. They might need help by someone else to help me put it into easy read and if I find out its in easy-read I may ask, if I’m in supported living, I may ask my staff member to help me call up or help me with the details. Then once it’s done, I can end up finding the Through the Maze staff and say oh they helped me get what I want to do and that I’m no longer stuck at home, and I can do things during the week!
CC: Staff that you have who work with you guys can you tell us why it’s so important?
V: It’s important to have staff with learning difficulties, it’s important, because it looks good for Connect in the North to employ someone with a learning disability and give them a chance in life to get paid employment or volunteering and it can look better for them knowing there’s people out there that will actually employ them.
T: Cause didn’t Connect in the North have, um not before um, before most people with learning disabilities joined, wasn’t it quite a while ago that it used to be people without learning disabilities on the board.
V: Oh yeah ages ago, yeah when it was- yeah years ago they all decided that people with learning difficulties should be running the organisation. It is yeah, cause it gives people with learning difficulties a chance.
CC: Tania can you tell me about um, Pass It On People and Roots please?
T: Yeah, I’ll start with Pass It On first. So, Pass It On People are people with a bunch of learning difficulties, so we go to different places to see if they’re accessible and we write it in to Thomas and everyone else then writes it in the newsletter. 
And then Rooots we are a community from different ethnic communities, so we do um, training, we’ve done Stamp Out Bullying and at the moment we’re doing Good To Be Different, Like To Be Fair, and then we might be doing some more after that.
CC: Tania, why is Pass It On People so important?
T: So, basically, information, cause, basically after we’ve visited a place it ends up going in the newsletter and quite a lot of people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties either like to look at thew newsletter cause of all the pictures are in easy read format and if you don’t know how to read you can look at the pictures and the pictures are always entertaining.
CC: So, Tania, why is it so important that places are accessible?
T: So, basically, if you’re like in a wheelchair and there’s something that you want to do, so you can go on and have a look to see if it’s accessible. So you may be in wheelchair, you may have Cerebral Palsy, or you may have something else, and you may actually want to do it, so we will have a look and see if it’s accessible for you to be able to do it. (And if it’s free that’s a good thing because people normally like free things).
CC: Can you tell us about the new Whatsapp Group?
V: Yeah, we’ve got a new Whatsapp group service and it’s a message that comes out once a week, on a Monday, and it tells you about what’s going on through the week, in Leeds. So, people with learning difficulties or family carers or carers can look and think that might be good for my son to do or my friend down the road. Also, if you’re unsure about the Whatsapp group you can ring up Connect in the North and get in touch. They also have an easy-read system now to get onto Whatsapp so if you’re not sure and you want to get on to it Through the Maze have the easy-read information.
CC: Can I ask you about Connect in the North and Learning Disability Week?
V: Learning Disability Week is a week for people with disabilities and different organisations celebrate people with disabilities. But Connect in the North have got a very important part to play as well as some of the organisations that are out there, cause what we do, is we take part in the big, I don’t know if you know it- Civic Hall, the Wharf Cha- is it the council- no Council Chambers, where all the councillors sit and have big meetings we take over it once a year at learning disability week with different organisations and have big topics we talk about. It could be buses, taxis, and we come together and talk about it.
Then, after that event’s finished, we do a very important march from Leeds Civic Hall right down to Kirkgate Market, but when you’ve done that walk you’ll get into the market to discover we’ve got an event called Being Social which is all organisations in Leeds that offer services for people in Leeds. So, if you’re in town shopping and you’ve got a daughter with a disability you think ‘oh what’s this?’ you can come along and go what’s this and get information for your daughter to maybe, like, join People Matters or Pyramid of Arts, stuff like that. And there’s great food there as well.
CC: Where can you find Connect in the North?
V: You can find Connect in the North on the new website. 
You can find it on Facebook, on X which used to be twitter. And it’s also on YouTube. And its also, if you ever get the Through the Maze booklet and if you get the connect in the north newsletter you normally have the information on there where you can find us as well. You can also find us in Beeston at the Sugar Mill.
CC: How would people can become a member?
T: So for Through the Maze you have to sign up for the newsletter and it gets posted to your house or if it’s a member of a staff like, um, or social worker, my colleague tends to go out and see a lot of social workers because they tend to sign up for thew newsletter digitally as you can sign up for the physical or digital copy.
V: If anyone wants to sign up for Connect in the North, we are sometimes at events and we can help people sign up or if you’ve got Through the Maze magazine and you’re not sure you could just ring the number on the back of that and they can advise you what to do and they’ll send you a form out or do it digitally online. You can fill that in send it back and then we’ll send you all the future newsletters and information that’s going on with the organisation. So, if there’s any training courses you want to come on or if there’s owt like that in the future you can do.
CC: So, thank you for tuning in and thank you Vicky and Tania for being my guests.
V: Thank you I’ve enjoyed doing it.
CC: Thank you
V: I hope to come on and do another podcast again at some point in the year
CC: That would be lovely! And you can also find Connect in the North and everything else online.