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Adults with learning disabilities upcycle

Words by Smiley Team

One charity based in Flint is giving back to the environment, while helping adults with learning disabilities gain valuable skills.

Hft aims to help adults with learning disabilities live “the best life possible”. They provide a range of services, from care to supported living – but recently have been gaining notice for their upcycling work.

The Second Chance Initiative is an upcycling project where adults with learning disabilities are taught by skilled members of the community to upcycle things that would otherwise be heading for the tip. From rusty, broken bikes to wooden pallets, there’s nothing too big – or too small – that they can turn into something new. 

“Some of the people we support have learnt how to ride a bike after upcycling it themselves,” said Katie Higginson, Hft Flintshire’s Team Coordinator. “We have had, and are planning more sessions for things such as, hate crime, cycle proficiency and first aid simply through positive conversations in the community.”

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The upcycled items are then sold, with all the proceeds going back into the programme to help keep it running. Now in its second year, the project is primarily funded by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. The products are made primarily from things that are donated by the community, things they would otherwise take to a landfill.

The main goal of the initiative is to help adults with learning disabilities to learn valuable, employable skills. Research shows that the number of adults with learning disabilities in employment has decreased in the UK, currently standing at just 5.1% of adults with learning disabilities in paid employment.

“It’s great to be making useful things out of pallets like benches, bird houses and bin tidies,” said Ben and Daniel, who attend the programme. “[It] would be rotting in the rubbish tip otherwise.”

“Second Chance means empowering the people we support to be confident and express their ideas,” Katie said, when asked what Second Chance meant to her. “The positive knock on effects that this project has on the individuals, their families and the wider community is infectious and my hope is that the project goes from strength to strength.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can donate to Hft on their website, and help them keep programmes like Second Chance running.

VOLUNTEER: Hft are currently looking for volunteers, and even offer volunteer accreditation that can be used with schemes like the Duke of Edinburgh award.

SUPPORT: You can help Hft by attending their fundraising events, or even starting your own fundraiser.

GET INVOLVED: You can get involved by being more discerning with what you contribute to landfills, and looking into local upcyclers in your area.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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