My Independence

My Independence was our theme for day 3 of Preparing for Adulthood Week.

We covered building independence and life skills, focusing on supported accommodation and supported living. We heard from professionals on their expertise and advice as well as parent / carers and young adults sharing their lived experiences, transitioning from childhood to adulthood. There was also a live question and answer segment.

The day was split into two live events - a lunchtime session (1pm until 2pm) aimed directly at young people and an evening session (6.30pm until 7.30pm) aimed at parent / carers.

Watch the My Independence session

My Independence lunchtime session

My Independence evening session

Guest speakers

Gail Heard

Gail Heard is our first speaker on both the lunchtime and evening My Independence themed sessions. Gail is a Customer and Family Liaison Officer at Wigan Council and will start the session by giving an overview of supported living with her colleague Lindy Wardle.

Gail is responsible for supporting customers and their families in finding a suitable home with the right level of care and support to meet their needs, working in partnership with social care registered landlords. Some of our supported living services are purpose-built. They've been adapted and use technology that helps people to live as independently as possible.

Wigan Council’s ethical framework of support offers an ethical, asset-based approach to care and support. This helps meet the needs and aspirations of people, enabling them to live happy, fulfilled lives within a safe environment in their own homes, as well as allowing them to engage with their local communities.

If you need further information and guidance, you can contact Gail by emailing or calling 01942 489702 / 07824475704

Ben West

Ben West

We are delighted to introduce our next guest speaker Ben West. Ben has kindly offered to speak at lunchtime about his lived experience of supported living. A great opportunity for young people to learn about how they can live independently in the future.

"Hi, I’m Ben - I have lived in supported accommodation for over 4 years. I moved from living with my parents, brothers, and sister to my own place. Since living with support I have met new friends and learned lots of different new skills from the staff who support me which has improved my confidence and independence.

"During the week, I attend day service 1 involving the buzz pod, which consist of media work as I enjoy this activity, I am also good with technology and IT. I have completed online IT training courses which has helped with my current work placements. I have had several volunteering opportunities and currently on a job placement in housing 3 days per week.

"On my day off I usually catch up on housework and shopping. At weekends I like to spend time socialising and doing activities with family and friends. Staff support me with medication, meal planning, cooking, budgeting my finances, keeping myself safe and maintaining my tenancy.

"I’m known as DJ Ben, I love music, I have my own music system and have volunteered at many discos and parties for other services. One of my biggest goals is to organise a music festival event for charity here in Wigan. Look out for this - BENFEST."



We are also delighted to introduce guest speaker David. David will be speaking at lunchtime about his lived experience of travel training and volunteering that led to a paid job, as well as his book.

"My name is David and I live at King Street. It is a nice safe place, and everyone cares, they are lovely. When I first came to King Street I enjoyed being shown around by Hana and Michelle. I really enjoy living independently and I make sure my flat is clean, I am proud of myself.

"Living here has made me a lot better at meeting and talking to new people, made me more confident and I enjoy getting involved with all the activities, I am more social than ever before. I sometimes help other service users by pushing them in their wheelchairs or helping them make a brew.

"I am also a fire warden at King Steet, and I want to keep everybody safe. During the week I keep busy and leave for work at 5:30am, however I know when I return home to King Street I will be met by a lot of happy staff and service users.

Linda Ashcroft

Guest Speaker Linda Ashcroft will be joining us at the evening event to share her experience of when her son moved from the family home into his own accommodation.

"My name is Linda, and this is my story of our journey into supported accommodation. We first met with Gail at our home so we could go through what supported living was all about and what the options are in Wigan. This was an eye opener to what is out there. Once we had visited Marigold with Gail, we decided to go ahead and proceed with our son moving there.

"After contacting his social worker Zoe, both the registered manager (Katherine) and team leader (Yvonne) at Marigold came to our house to meet Adam. Katherine and Yvonne completed an assessment to check if his needs could be met and if the environment at Marigold was suitable. This showed us that they were interested in him and wanted to be able to help him with the right placement and support.

"This made us confident that his needs would be met and that it was the right place for him, if it wasn’t we could look at other options. We then proceeded to visit Marigold as part of a transition plan which started in August 2020. We got involved on chippy Friday’s and Sunday dinner (days) to support our son to meet and interact with the other residents. 

"Although there was nothing in the flat that we earmarked for him we did keep taking him in there to look at it and left personal items so he could gain an idea that it is his flat. We were made to feel very welcome by both staff and residents. On one visit I spoke to one of the residents who had not long since moved in, they told me that they had wanted to do this move for a long time "but Mum wouldn’t let him!."

"This left a strong impression on me - I wished that my son could have told me that. At one stage during the pandemic, lockdown rules meant only Adam could visit, so we would take him and pick him up. Staff regularly updated us with feedback on the visits. The visits always went well and the more he visited the more he was feeling comfortable with the staff. To the point he tells staff to "kiss his bum!."

"The team leader of Marigold could not have been better, she was very understanding and supportive. She supported me when she knew I was finding it hard. She was also there to talk to and always reminded me that he is not being sent away or locked in, we didn’t need an appointment to see him, this is his HOME and we could visit whenever we wanted.

"However, when the day finally arrived, it was hard. He didn’t move in until March 2021, we transitioned at his pace, like many of you, you will know, or your son/daughter will be able to tell you or show you when they are ready to live in their own place. If it wasn’t for covid he may have moved in sooner, but we will never know.

"Since he has moved into Marigold the support of the manager and staff has been brilliant, and I have seen him flourish and grow up. He's settled in nicely and staff know they have him! We know this has been the best thing for him and we know he loves it there. He has on occasion chucked us out of his flat when he has had enough of us and coming from a man that does not always vocalise what he wants, one way or another he lets us know! And loves telling us it is his flat!

"Please never feel that you cannot talk to those involved in your process, there are people there to help and support you and your son/daughter to find the right place for them."

Gail Heard and Lindy Wardle

Gail and Lindy will be joining us for the evening session to explain the Ethical Framework for Support Providers, along with Bev Parkin from Mediline who will share an overview of providers services.

List of Ethical Framework for Support Providers
Care ProviderContact nameContact number
Caretech Jo Withington 0161 8720459
Care Choice North West Shauna Barton 01942 825766
Cherish Alex Wood 01253 766888
Community Integrated Care Paula Dodman 0151 230 4490
Creative Support Colette Leigh 01942 673255
Imagine Act and Succeed Ruth Gorman 01942 807009
Mediline (external link) Beverley Parkin 01257 448618
Possibilities Rachel Law 01706 626731
Wigan Cares Jill Lockett 01204 332 537
Wigan Council Kathryn Rodrigues 01942 705970

Gail and Lindy will be discussing the role Quality Performances Officers in supporting providers and ensuring excellent care and support.

Quality Performances Officers

Quality Performances Officers work across Wigan’s Supported Accommodation Services. We're passionate about ensuring excellent care and support for all in the borough and are constantly working with supported living providers to ensure Wigan residents have the best possible life and that their dreams and aspirations are fulfilled.

We talk to people who receive support, or their representatives, about how they feel about the support they get and the staff who support them. We work closely with providers to develop their services to ensure they are continually striving for excellence and providing great support on a day-to-day basis.

As part of this, quality assurance visits are conducted across all our services to check performance and identify any areas of concern. They're also an opportunity to recognise and celebrate achievements.

Quality assurance is everyone’s business, allowing the proactive use of a wide range of intelligence. We also work closely with national inspection bodies and regulators such as the Care Quality Commission, sharing information and working collaboratively to address poor standards of care. Concerns are addressed quickly and robustly, and consistently poor providers will be exited from the market.

We are currently in the process of completing a Provider Contract Tender across our Supported Living Services, which has enabled us to build strong, trusting relationships with our providers whilst ensuring their values and behaviours coincide with Wigan Council's Deal for Adult Social Care and Health.

Although we're still working on the implementation phase, we are all extremely excited to be involved in this process and the possibilities this has to offer.

  • Be A Voice for Care - we really want to hear from you about people’s experiences of the care and support they receive.

Suzanne Johnson

Our last guest speaker in evening session is Wigan Council Occupational Therapist (OT) Suzanne Johnson, who will talk about properties and adaptations.

"Hi, my name is Suzanne Johnson and I am the named OT for transformation and project work, working alongside my supported living, social work, assistive technology and housing colleagues on internal / external supported accommodation projects.

"In layman’s terms, to an OT, an occupation is anything you DO - feeding yourself, dressing yourself, toileting yourself, making friends, sitting in a chair, walking across a room - the list goes on forever. I am involved in the multi-disciplinary steering groups for future builds specifically for learning disabilities, autism and elderly care property provision.

"From planning stage, I provide professional advice from an OT perspective on the design of new build properties. This contributes to ensuring we are providing lifelong homes for the future, which meet the need of our customers and the provision of specialist services.

"Once a person has been identified as having equipment or adaptation needs, be that through functional or cognitive issues, I complete an assessment and provide the suitable equipment or advise on any adaptations required. This could be anything from a grab rail to a ceiling track hoist. I also advise on the suitability of any identified property for an individual."

Agenda for the My Independence sessions

Wednesday 10th November 2021

Lunchtime schedule for young people / schools / colleges

  • 1pm-1.15pm Guest Gail Heard and Lindy Wardle speaking about Supported Living Support
  • 1.20pm-1.30pm Guest Ben West speaking about his lived experience of supported living
  • 1.35pm-1.45pm Guest David speaking about travel training, volunteering and getting paid job
  • 1.50pm-2pm - Hosting a live question and answer segment

Evening schedule for parents / carers

  • 6.30pm-6.35pm Guest Lindy Wardle speaking about Supported Living
  • 6.35pm-6.40pm Guest speaker Gail Heard speaking about her role with customer and families
  • 6.45pm-7.00pm Guest Parent/Linda Ashcroft speaking about when her son moved into his own accommodation
  • 7pm-7.10pm Guest Bev Parkin speaking as an Ethical Framework for Care provider Mediline
  • 7.15pm-7.25pm Guest Suzanne Johnson Occupational Therapist speaking about properties and adaptations
  • 7.30pm-7.40pm - Hosting a live question and answer segment

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