Realise Futures wins three-year contract to support people in Suffolk with learning disabilities and/or autism

03 October 2018

People with learning disabilities and/or autism in Suffolk are to get walk-in advice, help and support from specialist provider of employment services for people with disabilities, Realise Futures.

The social enterprise, based in Ipswich and operating in Suffolk and Essex, has been appointed by Suffolk County Council to deliver aspects of its learning disability strategy, a five-year plan developed in partnership with service users and three Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Realise Futures has created five new jobs to work within its existing team located across Suffolk to deliver the contract which focuses on three specific areas – walk-in advice, peer support and help for people with learning disabilities and/or autism provided at Suffolk Libraries.

The services are free, and no appointments will be needed.

Commenting on the new contract, Deb Gibson Realise Futures Careers and Progression Manager said: “The objective is to promote independence by enabling people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and their families, to access brief support when they need it, as well as providing opportunities for people to build their connections in the local community through peer support.

“Peer support is all about helping people. At the groups we will be setting up, people can share their experiences and talk about the things that matter to them. We know that social isolation is a big issue for people, and we can help with that because being part of a group is a great way to make friends and become more confident.

“It’s exciting to watch people develop independent skills and more social awareness of what is happening in their local communities and get involved. We are delighted to be working in partnership with others to help support existing services and to help people get the help they need.”

Taking place at The Navigator Centre in Lowestoft Library, Realise Futures will run information sessions on topics such as welfare benefits, money management and accessing health services - as well as other services including adult learning and employment support.

Realise Futures will also develop a network of self-supporting peer groups across Suffolk where people can benefit from shared personal experience and take part in relevant activities and events in their community. These groups will be developed in co-production with people with learning disabilities and/or autism.

The contract also includes working in partnership with Suffolk Libraries to deliver their Open Spaces sessions, making them more accessible for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. Open Spaces is run weekly in libraries across the county where people can drop in for a cuppa, a chat and take part in wellbeing activities.

Realise Futures has a proven track record of supporting people with disabilities and/or autism and its specialism is helping people facing complex barriers in life and in work.

It currently delivers the government’s Work and Health Programme to people with health conditions and disabilities in Suffolk, on behalf of the national charity Shaw Trust and, in Essex, has provided supported employment services for adults with disabilities for the past four years, helping them with skills and training to build their confidence to allow them to progress to paid employment.

It also delivers the Building Better Opportunities service in Suffolk and Essex, with its  partners Green Light Trust and Phoenix Rising, to help support those people most disengaged to move closer in to training or employment.

In addition, Realise Futures Learning and Development is a leading provider of Ofsted-graded Good adult community learning courses at six learning centres in Suffolk delivering to those aged 19+ who are most socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged.

To develop these new services that are needed and wanted in Suffolk, Realise Futures will continue to work closely with service users, commissioners, social workers, parents and carers, and other key partners such as social work teams, GPs, community organisations and mental health support services.

A full copy of the Suffolk Joint Learning Disability Strategy can be found at: