Happiness…the greatest gift that we possess, according to the late comedian Ken Dodd, not to mention other eminent philosophers across the ages.
In the hurly-burly of day-to-day life, which for some means just trying to survive, it is something that we often forget. Yet if we don’t give focus and pay attention to the things that make us happy we will miss the daily opportunities that there are to suck in and nurture the life-force that is happiness.
Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home, yet somehow we don’t always equate work with being happy. It doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why this year we have launched our Happiness Manifesto – twelve ideas to think about and focus on that can increase your levels of happiness – in work and at home,
Click to find our Happiness Manifesto, Feel free to use the ideas however you choose.
Staff at PossAbilities, are celebrating a remarkable ‘double’, having received their second consecutive OUTSTANDING rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
It’s great news too for the people with learning disabilities that they support. The CQC conducts rigorous assessments of all 22,000 adult social care providers against five criteria, to stress test if the service is safe; effective; caring; responsive; and well-led. Only three percent of providers across the whole country achieve an OUTSTANDING.
Rachel Law, PossAbilities Chief Executive said “To achieve outstanding the first time around was an incredible achievement by our team of amazingly dedicated people. To achieve it a second time, and with improved gradings, really shows that we continue to set our sights higher and higher”.
She added “Part of being the amongst the best means continually striving to get even better. One in four providers that are rated outstanding, lose it on their second inspection. I want to thank all of the team across our services in Rochdale that have made this possible. Most of all, I am delighted for the people with learning disabilities who we support to live the life they choose”.
PossAbilities provides support to some 150 people with learning disabilities across the borough of Rochdale. They live in shared houses or in family homes across the community and are supported to become increasingly independent so that they are able to live the life that they choose. The recent Government Civil Society Strategy featured PossAbilities as a stand out example of how we can make our society stronger and more inclusive.
PossAbilities brand new variety show Simply the Best had the audience rocking at the Middleton Arena for two nights in November.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the show featured over 50 people supported by PossAbilities and staff members, who spent nine months in rehearsals.
It was all worth it as the sell out crowds were wowed to song, dance and comedy routines from The Greatest Showman; Rocky; Grease; Thriller; and many more.
Rachel Law, PossAnilities Chief Executive said “it’s incredible. Each time we do a show, we think think that it can’t possibly get any better. Yet it does and this one was absolutely fantastic. It makes me realise just how much talent that we have within the groups of people that we support and amongst our staff who put in a lot of effort in their own time. I feel so proud”.
The show is available on DVD priced £5. To order email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new state-of-the-art development has been given the go-ahead by Rochdale’s Planning Committee. Cherwell Village Apartments will see PossAbilities filling a gap in the housing options for people with learning disabilities.
Chief Executive Rachel Law said “This new £1.7 million development, funded through our success as a social enterprise, will see 17 people with learning disabilities having a place to call home for the first time in their lives”.
Typically people with a learning disability share a house with other’s. In the Cherwell Village Apartments they will have their own front door; bedroom; kitchen; bathroom; and living space. A real place to call home.
It’s co-location with the Cherwell Wellbeing Garden & Farm, and the social lounge, a funky 364 days-a-year drop in space, makes it unique in the UK. It offers a place to live, work, volunteer, learn new skills and socialise, whilst being part of a real, vibrant community.
Building is expected to commence in January 2019, with completion towards the end of the year.
Fifty tech entrepreneurs from around the world descended on Rochdale during October 2018, looking for big issues that needed big solutions. We were delighted when they asked if they could visit PossAbilities, and we hosted two groups of them, as part of a mission organised by Zinc, which aims to build new tech companies to solve the world’s toughest social issues.
Our visitors included entrepreneurs with backgrounds in psychology, architecture, technology and business from countries including Ukraine; Poland: France; Israel and the UK.
We spent time talking about our work with vulnerable adults and exploring ways in which technology and artificial intelligence can help us to overcome some of our biggest issues.
The entrepreneurs have returned to their London base to work out which ideas they would like to develop further, so we look forward to working with them to create some tech based alchemy.
In August 2018, the government launched it’s new Civil Society Strategy. The document Building a future that works for everyone, sets out a range of commitments to strengthen the role of civil society.
By civil society they mean individuals and organisations who act for the primary purpose of creating social value, independent of state control. Social value implies enriched lives and a fairer society for all.
As well as setting out the government’s commitments, the strategy uses case studies to illustrate what this approach to building civil society look like. Rachel Law, Chief Executive of PossAbilities said, “We were both delighted and surprised to find that we were featured in the government’s strategy as an example of excellence in social enterprise. It’s a great credit to all our staff that quite a new enterprise based in Heywood has attracted the attention of people in power. It’s nice to have accolades like this, but accolades don’t build a better society. Action, hard work and innovation do. So whilst we are delighted to be noticed, we will keep our feet firmly on the ground and carry on doing what we do best, creating social value”.
Manchester Pride returned for its 15th year, celebrating in style with over 4000 participants parading along the streets of Manchester on a glorious sunny day. Whilst parade veterans such as Greater Manchester Police, the NHS and Coronation Street got the crowds going, the parade welcomed a the PossAbilities float this year, which turned out to be a real a crowd pleaser.
This year’s theme, ‘The Circus of Acceptance’ featured fortune tellers, strongmen, ring leaders and even two bearded ladies who spread the love during Manchester Pride. The fun wasn’t all on the float, as some members of the PossAbilities team took to the streets with stickers to raise awareness of the importance of home sharing. The stickers also attracted young adults and the elderly, who are the key people when it comes to home sharing, which brings together different generations with one offering a spare room in exchange for help around the house or just a chat.
Chief Executive Rachel Law said, “We came to show our support for diversity bringing with us people with learning disabilities and our LGBT+ colleagues. I don’t think we realised quite how much fun it was going to be. It was a thrilling, fun-packed day and it demonstrated the human spirit at its very best. We just can’t wait for next year”.
For more photos of a great day, have a look at our Facebook page
David Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office spent the day at Heywood based social enterprise PossAbilities.
After the collapse of Carillion, the Minister is mounting a campaign to rebuild confidence in government outsourcing and aims to increase the proportion of government contracts awarded to small and medium enterprises.
A big theme for future procurement will be to encourage more businesses to focus on adding social value. PossAbilities, which has doubled in size since its inception in 2014, is being held up as a prime example of how be successful whilst making life better for people and improving the places where they work.
The Minister toured the Cherwell Wellbeing Garden & Farm, the Flower Lounge Florists and The Social Lounge, which is a place where people with learning disabilities can drop into 364 days a year.
Rachel Law, Chief Executive of PossAbilities said “It’s great that we are getting a national profile for our work supporting vulnerable adults. It’s further recognition of the fantastic work that our staff are doing. It shows that we are a great place to work, and the message to anyone who likes the idea of working in social care is to come and join us, we are always looking for good people”.
People with a learning disability often want to live more independent lives. For some, being part of a family and a home is a big step towards creating a fulfilling life. You can earn up to £350 a week, you can carry on working in your normal job if you have one, and you get great on-going support and training from our professional team. To find out more email email@example.com
PossAbilities Chief Executive, Rachel Law, will be at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel as a finalist in the Forward Ladies Awards.The FL National Awards & Summit recognises the achievements of business women in the UK. It is dedicated to encouraging the growth of women with the National Awards & Summit being a national showcase and celebration of the achievements of successful women across the UK.
Rachel is shortlisted for the Public Sector/Academia/Not for Profit Sector category in North West, Wales, Ireland & the Isle of Man, and this accolade follows on from her inclusion in the WISE 100 list of inspiring women in social enterprise.
So far, over 100 organisations have been formed by leaving the public sector and becoming Public Service Mutuals.
This initiative, championed by The Cabinet Office, has launched a second round of support, Mutuals II, which aims to encourage more public sector leaders to develop plans to ‘spin-out’ and become independent entities. PossAbilities is seen as one of the big success stories of the mutualisation programme, and The Cabinet Office has produced a video to encourage others to take the plunge. You can see this on PossAbilities TV and find out how to apply on the Cabinet Office website.
Since our formation in 2014, PossAbilities has doubled it’s turnover; increased staff from 220 to over 500; attracted some £500,000 in grants; built its reserves; and expanded from Rochdale into Widnes, Runcorn. Oldham and Todmorden, thus becoming a regional rather than a local player in the market.
The first Inclusive World Cup will be organised by PossAbilities thanks to a £4,000 grant from the Greater Manchester Police proceeds of crime fund.
The summer event aims to bring together the community in a joyous sporting endeavour. Teams will adopt a nation and comprise: –
The teams will compete in a series of World Cup related competitions, with the overall winner being presented with their trophy at the annual Cherwell Summer Fayre in Heywood.
Our Employment Team do a great job in supporting vulnerable adults to become work ready. For people with Apergers and Autism though, the world of work, with its rules, routines and social norms, can make them feel locked out of the workplace. They need personal development in order to get them ready to go on a work readiness programme.
That’s why we have developed a programme called Triple A: Achieving with Aspergers and Autism. A Triple A coach will work one-to-one and in groups with people to help them to set goals, build confidence and networks so that at the end of the programme they will be ready to enter a work readiness programme.
The scheme is being funded for one year by the Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group as part of their Social Investment Fund.
For the first time, UK based firms with over 250 employees had to publish their gender pay-gap statistics by midnight on 4th April 2018.
Heywood based social enterprise, PossAbilities has emerged as one of the few companies in the UK with a zero pay-gap across its 550 employees.
Human Resources Manager, Carolyn Tipper said “We are immensely proud that we are doing the right thing by both men and women at PossAbilities. Our mean gender pay-gap was less than 1%, with our median being exactly zero. Given that 78% of companies pay women less than men, and typically 18% less, we feel that we are ahead of the curve and we intend to stay there”.
PossAbilities is also unusual in that 75% of its most senior posts are filled by women, and the proportions between men and women at different grades remain fairly constant and reflect the 75/25 split between female and male workers.
Chief Executive, Rachel Law said “We didn’t set out to do this, it’s just what happens when you adopt a policy of fairness and create a true meritocracy. Given that the BBC pay men 9.3% more than women and Virgin Money some 37% more, we have established a very firm foundation and are ranked one of the most equal places to work in the UK”.
PossAbilities provides support for vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, dementia and young people leaving care across the North West. Rachel added “We think that we are a great place to work. We now know that we are a fair place to work as well. We are always looking for good people to work with us and it’s great to have another reason to say ‘come and join us’”.
One of the things we take really seriously here, is staff training. Having great staff means that we can provide a great service to the people that we support.
Skills for Care is a national body which helps to support a well-led, skilled and valued adult social care workforce. Each year they assess hundreds of organisations to decide who should be nominated for their annual Accolades Awards.
After an assessment visit from their judges we learned that we have been nominated for ‘Best company over 250 employees’.
A small group of staff will attend the award ceremony in London on 1st March…so wish us luck!
The PossAbilities show will be back on stage in 2018, thanks to a £10,000 award from the Big Lottery Fund.
Rehearsals are already underway for the variety show, performed by some 60 people who we support, in front of a packed house on two nights at the Middleton Arena.
Operations Director, Colette Crookes said “We are absolutely delighted at this award. It is such a thrill for everybody involved and something really exciting to work towards during the year. As a by-product, the coming together of the local community at such an exciting event helps to break down stigma towards vulnerable adults”.
The show is scheduled for November 2018, full details will be announced in due course.
The first NatWest WISE100, a list of the 100 most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation, features Heywood boss Rachel Law.
At a special event held in London, Rachel’s achievements in setting up Heywood based PossAbilities CIC just three years ago, were recognised. Since that time, PossAbilities which supports people with learning disabilities, has grown from £6 million to £10 million turnover; doubled its staff from 220 to over 400; now provides services across the North West and is rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). In her spare time, she has developed an urban farm and £150,000 wellbeing garden for the whole community and established The Monkey Town Trail, featuring nine giant ape artworks and recruiting over 1000 people to create them with professional artists.
Rachel said “It’s a great honour to be on the very first list. Not so much for me personally, but for PossAbilities. It recognises all of the great things that our people have been doing. It just so happens that when you are the CEO, you sometimes get the credit. I’m really proud of everything that’s happened over the past three years and excited about what happens next. Though there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s because of the great team that we have built”.
A spokesperson for the NatWest WISE100 said “Although the social sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality, there is still more that can be done. If we want the upward trend of women in leadership positions to continue – both in the social sector and across other business sectors – we have to recognise and celebrate the good work that women are already doing in these roles. This is where the WISE100 comes in”.
The Driving Up Quality Code is a voluntary code which PossAbilities has signed up to. It shows our determined commitment to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities by taking active steps to improve the services that we provide and the ways in which we provide them.
The code, involves a phase of self-assessment over a range of themes which impact upon quality. You can find our self assessment report by clicking on this link Driving Up Quality.
It shows that even with our CQC Outstanding an Good inspection results, there are still things that we can do to improve. This report is our commitment to this and will be reviewed every year.
BBC Radio Manchester’s Breakfast Show, featured PossAbilities today (16th January 2017), in a live outside broadcast from the Cherwell Wellbeing Garden & Farm.
Reporter Richard Stead interviewed Chief Executive Rachel Law about the remarkable growth of PossAbilities since it’s ‘spin-out’ from Rochdale Council. As you might expect, a number of our animals got in on the act too, with listeners having their cornflakes to the sounds of grunting pigs and twittering birdlife.
Mark Broadbent (aka Spud) told listeners about the things he loves about coming to The Social Lounge and working on the farm. Without this place “I would just be bored at home” he said.
You can listen again on www.bbc.co.uk/radiomanchester …. fast forward to approximately 7.40 and 9.55.
A week may be a long time in politics, but in business a year is not a long time at all.
For Heywood based social enterprise PossAbilities, 2016 proved to be a momentous 365 days, in which it’s total value of new business took off, going from zero to £10 million.
Having started out only two and a half years ago, the fledgling enterprise began by providing support primarily to people with learning disabilities in Rochdale. Now thanks to new contract awards, against the toughest of competition, the business has expanded into Runcorn, Widnes, Oldham and Calderdale.
Rachel Law. PossAbilities Chief Executive said “Nobody could have imagined what a momentous year 2016 was going to be. As well as the £10 million in new contracts, we have taken on over 150 new staff, opened the magnificent Cherwell Wellbeing Garden in Heywood, we launched our Big Lottery Funded Homeshare scheme and were finalists in the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards. It has certainly set the bar very high as we gear up for 2017. Can we do better? We will certainly give it our best shot”.
A Heywood woman was able to leave nursing care and get back to the home she loves thanks to a new scheme which brings together people who need a bit of support with those who need a place to live.
Doreen 78 from Heywood and Anouck 22 from Paris are the first match for PossAbilities Homeshare. In return for helping Doreen out with a few household chores, Anouck gets a room in Doreen’s home whilst she spends a year perfecting her English, before continuing her studies in Law.
After spending months in a care home following a fall, all Doreen wanted was to go home. Having Anouck around to help with the cooking was just what she needed to help her to get back to her normal life.
It’s a life that Anouck is very quickly learning a lot about. She says “I enjoyed going to Bingo with Doreen, but need more practice with the numbers as they are called very quickly. She also took me to the singing group. I had no idea that I would have to sing, but once I settled in I really enjoyed it”.
Doreen is revelling in her new lifestyle “It’s lovely to finally be home in my comfy bed. I’m enjoying the food that Anouck makes me, I’m even eating French food and liking it. We loved going to Bingo and I had to explain to Anouck that 1 and 6 was 16”.
For PossAbilities Homeshare team this is the first of many ‘matches’ that they will be making. Loneliness can have the same effect on health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and often people with a spare room could do with just a little support.
If you have a spare room and would welcome some support or you need a place to live and would be willing to give some social support in return, you can contact the Homeshare Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01706 626747.
Heywood is set to have it’s own Monkeytown Trail thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Celebrate Fund.
Heywood based social enterprise PossAbilities are leading the project which will create a trail of nine monkeys around the town which will be launched next spring with a monkey themed parade around the trail.
PossAbilities Chief Executive Rachel Law said “We want to celebrate all that is great about Heywood and bring people from all walks of life together in a creative endeavour. For some the Monkeytown tag has been seen as a negative. We want to turn it into a positive and really celebrate Heywood as a great place to be”.
Schools will be invited to adopt a monkey and work with artists to create a unique design for each one. The trail will take people on a three-mile walk in and around the town, beginning and ending at the Cherwell Wellbeing Garden & Farm.
Anyone that wants to get involved or know more about the Monkeytown Monkey Trail should email email@example.com.
Heywood based social enterprise, PossAbilities has been shortlisted for a top award by Social Enterprise UK.
After a barnstorming year, which has included a CQC Outstanding rating, it seemed like things couldn’t get better, but they did. The local firm have grabbed £7.1 million in new contracts; built the £150,000 Cherwell Wellbeiing Garden & Farm; been awarded £267,000 by the Big Lottery Fund; launched a new Homeshare scheme; and a whole lot more.
Now they are one of only six organisations shortlisted for the Social Enterprise of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at London’s Grand Connaught Rooms in a special ceremony on 28th November.
PossAbilities Chief Executive Rachel Law said “To be on the shortlist is amazing. We are only two years old, yet the things we are achieving on a consistent basis are a credit to all of our staff. Each year some 300 companies vie for this award so to be in the final six is a real accolade – win or lose. We hope to win, but if somebody else does, then we know that they must be very, very good, and it will just inspire us to get better”.
Heywood based social enterprise PossAbilities continued a relentless period of growth this week, by securing a new contract in Oldham.
Following on from a recent success in Widnes & Runcorn, the social care provider has now secured over £7 million of new contracts in just the past six months. This rapid growth will see the company taking on some 150 new staff, supporting vulnerable people, primarily with learning disabilities.
Chief Executive Rachel Law said, “Only just over two years ago, we were just starting out. We never imagined that our growth would be so rapid and so spectacular. It’s a great testament to the quality of our staff and the service they provide. We can’t get carried away though, we are relentless in our drive to keep improving in every way possible.”
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Television presenter Michelle Ackerley launched PossAbilities new Homeshare scheme this week in a special event at One Riverside in Rochdale.
Michelle, currently presenting Watchdog and Crimewatch Live, opened the event in her capacity as PossAbilities Homeshare Ambassador.
This new scheme, supported by the Big Lottery Fund and operated by Heywood based PossAbilities, brings together older people with a spare room and younger people who need a place to live. The idea is that instead of paying rent, the Homesharer agrees to provide up to ten hours of social support instead – gardening, shopping or going out for a meal, whatever the person needs.
With loneliness having the same effect on health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and young people finding it hard to save for a deposit on a home or pay tuition fees, Homeshare is a win-win.
Michelle Ackerley said “I feel so proud to be the Ambassador for this great scheme. We are beginning to create Homeshares in Rochdale Borough first, before moving out across the North West. It’s really safe, with PossAbilities fully vetting people and monitoring Homeshare arrangements to make sure that they are working out”.
If you are interested in being part of a Homeshare or know somebody that might be, there’s a short film at here, or you can contact: –
Ruth Bamber or Mathilde Vautier firstname.lastname@example.org or 01706 626747.