Absolute Support London

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Absolute Support London's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Absolute Support London is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.absolutesupportlondon.co.uk

27ABSOLUTE SUPPORT LONDON |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
Margaret Toner, Director
We know how to have fun
Founded in 2015, Absolute Support (London) Limited
provides support to adults with learning disabilities or
mental health conditions, living in Richmondupon Thames
and the surrounding boroughs. Based in Surbiton, London, they
help their clients to take control of their lives and strive to be
as independent as they are able. They believe that people with
learning disabilities and mental health conditions are valuable
members of society, have the same rights as other citizens and
should have the same opportunities as everyone else. Director
Margaret Toner discusses their approach to supporting adults
with learning disabilities and she explains her motivation behind
initially establishing the service.
Years ago, as a foster carer for children with disabilities, it was clear to me that
often these children were invisible and their voices were not heard. With the
introduction of direct payments and an initiative to improve the life chances of
disabled people, this slowly began to change and people with learning disabilities
were encouraged to move towards living independently. We were established
to provide a safe and nurturing environment, which enables our clients to feel
secure, to be ready to learn and to maintain the skills they require to lead fulfilled,
purposeful and independent lives.
Establishing our service
After years as a mainstream social worker I became an independent social worker and
returned to providing direct support to a group of four adults with Downsyndrome
FACTS ABOUT
ABSOLUTE SUPPORT LONDON
»Director: Margaret Toner
»Founded in May 2015
»Based in Surbiton, London
»No. of employees: 18
»Services: Support for adults
with learning disabilities and
mental health conditions
»STEPS: Supported training and
employment opportunities
in social care for adults with
learning disabilities and mental
health conditions
»Soft play café: Supported
training and employment
opportunities in catering and
hospitality for adults with
learning disabilities
Absolute Support
London
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | ABSOLUTE SUPPORT LONDON
who share a house in Richmond. Due
to the success I achieved, and the style
of support provided, I was approached
by several other people to undertake
more work. It seemed a logical step
to develop a support service. In 2015,
ASLL was officially established in order
to allow us to provide an autonomous
service to enable our clients to live as
independently as they are able. We are
employed directly by the people we
support, usually through their parents,
and we never lose sight of this fact.
Our company’s aim is to ensure that
none of the people we support are
defined by their disability but are seen
as the incredible individuals they are,
who are valued members of their
community. We are mindful of the
words of Albert Einstein when he says,
“Everybody is a genius but if you judge
a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will
live its whole life thinking it is stupid.”
We encourage our clients to recognise
their genius and to realise nothing is
beyond them.
After identifying a lack of real training
and employment opportunities for our
clients, we conducted some research
with them to look at the type of work
they were interested in and they
identified that they would like to work
with older people. As there are few
opportunities in this area we developed
a new branch of the company
called STEPS (Supported Training,
Employment Project for Success). We
now run this in partnership another
local agency (RHLT) and the local
community college (RHACC), to
provide training in health and social
care alongside work experience in
residential and community settings.
So far this has led to three learners
acquiring paid employment.
High-quality provision
Our clients live in shared houses,
provided by local housing associations,
within the local community. We
provide the infrastructure, support and
information to encourage and promote
individual choice and we find creative
ways of enabling our clients to make
the important choices that will impact
the way they live their lives. We see
this as their right. We also recognize
Games night Celebrating the achievements
of our clients and staff
Our company’s
aim is to
ensure that
none of the
people we
support are
defined by
their disability
but are seen as
the incredible
people that
they are
29ABSOLUTE SUPPORT LONDON |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
that it is a major step for parents to
see their child with learning disabilities
leave home, so we go to additional
measures to help manage this
transition and offer them support.
We are passionate about our work
and in November 2017 ASLL became
registered with the Care Quality
Commission as a domiciliary care
agency. ASLL is and always will be
at the forefront of providing high-
quality, dedicated support in a way
that engages and empowers clients,
within a supported living setting. We
set the standards high for others to
emulate. In January 2018 we had our
first CQC inspection and were rated as
“good” across all five areas, with no
recommendations: the highest marks
we could have achieved.
To achieve our goal and provide the
service our clients need, we have taken
a four-fold strategic approach.
»To provide support and supervision
with an “independent living”
philosophy, delivered in a home-style
environment.
»To continue to develop a sound
model for providing training and
employment opportunities in social
care through our STEPS programme.
»To work with elderly people to
provide home-based support and
offer companionship.
»Finally, as a number of our clients
are passionate about cooking and
having fun, we are establishing
a café with soft play, to provide
further training and employment
opportunities in catering, hospitality
and potentially childcare.
Overcoming challenges
As a support provider, ASLL is employed
directly by the people we support,
mainly through their parents who act
as their appointees. This can also lead
to challenges, as our clients often
identify differing needs and wants
from their families’ expectations for
them. We then need to advocate for
our clients in such a way that enables
them to get their voices heard, while
acknowledging their parents’ opinions.
Whatever interventions we agree on,
the overriding principle is always that
we do not cause harm or undermine
any of the people wesupport.
Sadly, on occasion we do still come
up against discrimination towards our
clients by members of the public. We will
always challenge this sort of situation
head on, while protecting our clients’
dignity and wellbeing. We also strive to
give our clients the skills to challenge
any discrimination in a positive way.
The future
We have highly motivated, qualified
and dedicated staff as well as fantastic
clients, and by continually improving
our services we are working towards
achieving “outstanding” at our next
CQC inspection. We are in the process
of applying for charitable status as
we feel this is the right way to move
forward with ASLL, ensuring our
sustainability. The CEO and board of
trustees will support the company’s
progress and maintain stability for our
clients now, and in the future.
We provide
support and
supervision
with an
‘independent
living’
philosophy,
delivered in a
home-style
environment
Our trip to Portugal

www.absolutesupportlondon.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Absolute Support London. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy