All episodes

Red Giraffe Guide

161 WeBUILT Unified Living: Crafting a Supportive Community with Ann Wilkinson

When we live in a place that we like everything else is made just that bit easier. But sometimes finding that place can seem an impossible task. In this episode I’m sharing one family’s journey to find that place for their son. My guest is Ann Wilkinson from WeBUILT who shares her story from exploring various options and realizing these didn’t fit his needs to creating WeBUILT. She shares how they built a collaborative community where people have ownership and control over their living arrangements. WeBUILT stands for We Build Unique Independent Lives Together which is exactly what they have done.

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160 Real Lives, Real Jobs: Self Employment with Sam Everard from SAMEE

Self-employment is viable option, but it becomes even more so when there is clear evidence of how well it can work. In this episode Sam Everard, founder and CEO of Samee Charity shares some examples of where young people with additional needs have created great businesses based not only on their skills but also on their passions and often, because of their lived experience, an understanding of what others need. Sam also talks the benefits of self-employment in offering flexibility and control, which is not always possible with traditional employment roles.

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159 Enabling A Path To Self-Employment with Sam Everard from SAMEE

One way into paid employment is to work for yourself and that’s the focus of this episode with Sam Everard, founder and CEO of Samee Charity. She discusses the organization’s mission to support young people with additional needs into becoming self-employed. Sam also discusses the barriers, how to address these, and what supporting someone into self-employment involves.

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158 From Daily Living to Personal Growth with Debra Caldow

In this solo episode, I discuss what independence really means for young people like my daughter. Is it just about having the skills to do more for herself or are there other things that she should have the opportunities to consider? I discuss this using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory as a way to structure my thoughts on whether or not it’s enough to just focus on those daily living skills and relationships for our young people or whether there are more things to consider when it comes to supporting our young people to be truly independent in the way that they choose to live their lives.

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157 Raising Expectations: Lifelong Learning and Contribution with Lex Ali from Big Life Adventure

Learning new things, having new experiences and giving back to our community build self-confidence and self-esteem. However, to often people with additional needs aren’t given the opportunity to do any of these things. In this second part of my conversation with Lex Ali, from Big Life Adventure, we talk about the value in lifelong learning and the idea that everyone should have the opportunity to give back to their communities and to society. We talk about how the Big Life Adventure project will help support this continuous learning and enable people to connect with others.

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156 The Big Life Adventure with Lex Ali

For most people one of the great things about becoming an adult is getting to make their own life choices, dreaming about what they want to do, and making decisions about how their life will look now and in the future. But for many people with additional needs these opportunities aren’t easily available. In this episode my guest Lex Ali from Big Life Adventure talks about why this is happening and what can be done about. The Big Life Adventure project she discusses is definitely part of the answer.

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155 Breaking Down The Barriers To Employment with Vinny De Falco from Think Forward

Breaking down the barriers to inclusive employment opportunities is proving to be a challenge. But progress is being made and what that looks like is one of the things I’m discussing in this week’s episode with my guest Vinny De Falco from Think Forward. We talk about the programs that Think Forward have previously run, what they learned from those and how that information has guided their next program. We also discuss how to engage with employers and the external factors that also impact on the number of opportunities available. To bring about change means acting, learning along the way and changing what does not work and that is exactly what Think Forward is doing.

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154 Navigating the Transition Pathway with Vinny De Falco from Think Forward

The transition from education to employment for young people with additional needs requires planning in order to be effective. In this episode with Vinny De Falco from Think Forward we talk about the importance of early transition planning and how a structured and supportive transition program with personalized coaching can help young people develop the skills and confidence they need. We also talk about the need for collaboration and knowledge sharing among everyone, including families, involved in supporting the young person.

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153 Great Expectations And Why They Matter

It’s a solo episode this week and I’m talking about the role that expectations have in the way we support and inspire our young people to achieve all they are capable of. Our expectations of them guide their expectations of themselves and can also help them to ignore the low expectations of others.

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152 Why The Use Of Technology At Work Is About Mindset with Alex Barker from AbilityNet

The use of technology is embedded into our work lives and for people with additional needs it is often assistive technology that enables them to do their job. But often the right technology is not in place or provided by employers and that is one of the topics discussed in this episode of the podcast with my guest in this week’s episode Alex Barker from AbilityNet.

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151 Why We Should Be Using The Assistive Technology In Our Pockets with Alex Barker from AbilityNet

When we think of assistive technology or any technology that can support our young people with additional needs to become more independent, we often start at the point of thinking it could be expensive or complicated to learn to use. But the reality is that today the first bit of assistive technology that our young people should access is their phone or tablet

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150 Why Community Gives Us More Than Just Friendship with Sarah Towler from CASPA

When we think of community, we first think about the friendship element of being around other people. But there is more to being part of a community than just that. When we become part of a community, we have the opportunity to learn from those around us.  These are the other benefits of being in a community.

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149 How Community Can Support And Educate with Sarah Towler from CASPA

Community is defined as people with common interests living in a particular area but in reality, it’s less about location and more about belonging, about connection and feeling part of something. In this episode, my guest is Sarah Towler and the organization we are talking about is CASPA which does all of these things and more. CASPA stands for Community Autistic Support Pride and Advocacy,


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148 Why Habits Are The Foundation Of Independence

Every day we all do the same things the same way because it’s these habits that make it easier to live our lives. Habits are just skills we have that we use over and over again and for my daughter with additional needs, all the skills she has built over time are now habits that allow her to live more independently. Those skills she has like cooking going to her job or managing her money, the things she does the same way each time are all her habits.


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147 Why Working With Support Works with Adam and Deb

The barriers to employment for young people with additional needs are high but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible as this week’s episode shows. In part 2 of my conversation with Adam and Deb, Adam talks about his experience of work and why his current role is working for him. Adam believes it comes down to the right support at the right time and matching the individual to the job.  


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146 Making Choices with Adam and Deb

Sharing our stories helps us realize we are not alone. Hearing someone else’s story can also be a great way to learn new ideas we can use in our own family’s lives. In this episode, I’m sharing the story of Adam and his family. My guests are Adam, and his mother Deb. Adam talks about moving schools from a mainstream school to a specialist school as well as the challenges he found around transitioning out of full-time education.


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145 Why Risk Is Worth The Risk with Carol Smail from Gig Buddies Sydney

We should all have the right to choose how we live our lives, even if that means taking risks and making mistakes. But too often people with additional needs aren’t being given opportunities to take risks and to learn from their mistakes. My guest this week Carol Smail shares her experiences of the impact this lack of choice has, as well as what can happen when people are given the opportunity to make their own choices.

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144 Why Gig Buddies Is Great with Carol Smail from Gig Buddies Sydney

Finding friends with common interests can be difficult for anyone and for young people with additional needs it is often more challenging because their social network is smaller. That is why projects like Gig Buddies are so important as my guest in this episode Carol Smail from Gig Buddies Sydney explains.

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143 How Can We Change Society’s Expectations and Accelerate Inclusive Employment Opportunities? with Peter Bacon from Disability Employment Australia

Too often low expectations for people with additional needs have translated into fewer opportunities, particularly when it comes to paid employment. For change to happen, around work, more employers are needed which means employers will need to change their attitude toward employing people with a disability. 

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142 Does Inclusive Employment Just Happen? with Peter Bacon from Disability Employment Australia

Inclusive employers change the future for our children, but there simply isn’t enough of them. In this episode with Peter Bacon, CEO of Disability Employment Australia, I’m discussing why this is the case, and what actions could be taken to get more employers to become inclusive employers.

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141 Financial Future Series - Using a Gradual Financial Independence Approach with Graham Caldow

In this final episode of this Finance Future series, I’m talking to Graham Caldow about the value of giving financial independence gradually and building financial skills over time. We discuss the things that have worked for our family including multiple accounts and tracking spending. Finance is just one part of our legacy to our daughter but in lots of ways it’s the foundation of all the other things she will do in her life.

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140 Financial Future Series - Why ABLE Accounts Help Create More Opportunities with Jill Cornfield

Planning for the future is difficult when restrictions exist around how much money you’re allowed to save. In this episode with Jill Cornfield, I’m discussing how ABLE accounts can help mitigate this restriction and enable people to think longer-term and plan their financial future.  

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139 Financial Future Series - Building Good Money Habits with Karen Hassett from PATF

Managing our own money is challenging. The temptation to spend is never far away and we need tools and techniques that can help us make the right choices most of the time. In this second part of my conversation with Karen Hassett from PATF we are focusing on some ways to help our young people develop those money habits that will help them make better spending decisions. 

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138 Financial Future Series - Taking The First Small Step with Karen Hassett from PATF

Getting started on developing any plan can be a challenge but when it comes to our finances we can often get stuck at the first step. In this episode with Karen Hassett from PATF we talk about how to get started by thinking about a decision-making process when it comes to money and using simple ideas like tracking spending and identifying priorities to move forward. 

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137 Financial Future Series - Questions To Consider

The financial future for young people with additional needs can be challenging. They are more likely to have lower incomes, less likely to be employed full time and government assistance can be difficult to get and even more difficult to keep. So planning ahead to create a solid financial platform is essential in this new series – Financial Future I’ll be exploring the challenges, what solutions are out there, and how to plan ahead so that future financial security is achievable.

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136 Technology - Changing The Future - The Here And Now And The Next

In this episode I’m looking back over this latest series which has focused on the role that technology plays and will play in the lives of young people with additional needs. I’ll be discussing what assistive technology really means today and talk from my own experience about how technology supports my own daughter to live the life she wants.

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135 Technology- Changing The Future – Why the key is connectivity with Ben Wood from CCS Insight

The best technology makes our lives easier and connects us with what we need. But often the different devices we use don’t connect with each other or we don’t see the value in connecting them together. In this episode with Ben Wood, from CCS Insight, we are talking about how that is going to change as companies realise they need to work together.

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134 Technology - Identifying the best technologies to provide the right support with Padhraic Dormer from Enable Ireland

What’s the difference between a service user and a service owner? Quite a lot according to Padhraic Dormer from Enable Ireland. Padhraic explains the difference, as well as talking about his role as a virtual service support worker. He also discusses reasons why virtual services have proven to be so valuable in combatting social isolation.


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133 Technology- Changing The Future – Harnessing technology to raise expectations for independent living with Siobhan Long from Enable Ireland

Using technology to support independent living seems an obvious choice. However, it isn’t as this week’s guest Siobhan Long from Enable Ireland explains. 

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132 Technology- Changing The Future – Why It’s About Functionality and Fun with Lee Blemings from Sensory Guru

Technology is often developed with the focus on what it does rather than how it will be used. This week’s guest Lee Blemings explains why that approach is wrong and why it needs to also be about enjoyment, about fun and about connecting people in a meaningful way. 

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131 Technology - Changing The Future – Digital Inclusion: Why It's About More Than Just Access With Jane Seale

Even with technology all around us there are still barriers in place which lead to digital exclusion. In this episode with Jane Seale we explore some of the reasons for this and what needs to change.


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130 Technology - Changing The Future – Why Asking The Question Is Always The Best Option

With technology changing so quickly, we are often unsure of what is available and what is possible. In this episode Wendy Harkins Davis of Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) explains why no question is ever wrong, and that because with so many options available most questions can be answered in the positive.


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129 Technology - Changing The Future - Using Everyday Technology to Support Independence

Welcome to a new series on Technology – Changing the Future. From assistive technology to help aid communication to smart home devices that help make people safer, technology can change lives. In this first episode of the series, I’m talking to Libby Wilkins, Head of Accessibility and Digital Applications at The Oaks Specialist College.


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128 Planning The Journey – Using the VOCAL Method

Planning the future for our children with additional needs is not only challenging, it’s crucial. In this final episode of the Planning the Journey series, I’m talking about how to navigate each of the four lines Daily Living Relationships, Purpose and Financial using the VOCAL method.


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127 Planning The Journey - Financial Security - Why Enough Is Enough

Providing financial security for our children with additional needs when we are no longer around is one of our greatest challenges. In this episode I talk about why it is achievable once we decide how much is enough.


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126 Planning The Journey - Why Presumption of Purpose Matters

Having a purpose provides meaning and direction to our lives. In this episode I talk about ways to support our children to find purpose and the importance of a Presumption of Purpose.


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125 Planning The Journey - Managing Relationships - Using the AAA approach

Relationships matter. Without them our young people can become isolated. We all have our stories of challenging family relationships and friendships lost.


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124 Planning The Journey - Building Daily Living Skills

In this series I will be focusing on exploring in more depth the 4 core topics that the podcast has always focused around: daily living, relationships, purpose and financial. In this episode the focus is daily living skills.


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123 Housing Options Series: Why Choice and Community Matters

Where will my daughter live when I’m no longer around? It’s a big question, and some of the ideas explored in the Housing Options series just might help answer that question.


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122 Housing Options Series - 200 Lives - Finding Out What People Actually Think

It’s difficult to develop better housing options if we don’t know what people want and need. This week’s guests Chris Hatton and Lauren Blood were involved with a research project which will in part help to address this issue.


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121 Housing Options Series - Our Stomping Ground - Inclusive Communities

For too long housing solutions for young people with additional needs have failed to consider the importance of inclusion.


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120 Housing Options Series - US Autism Homes - Building With Love and Science

Creating a housing model for young adults with additional needs that really works means doing things differently. This is something Lisa Liberatore from US Autism Homes understands.


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119 Housing Options Series - Everyone Needs A Community Network

Finding somewhere to live is about more than just about finding a place, it’s about building a life. Community is an important part of that life. How to build communities is the topic of this episode with Kathy Meyer, from Everyone Needs A Community.


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118 Housing Options Series - Building A Supported Living Network

Finding Supported Living that works means bringing together many things, from finding a property in the right location with the right access, to identifying a support provider and accessing the right level of support.


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117 Housing Options Series - Parent Partnerships to Build Communities

When we imagine where our children might live, when we’re no longer around, it isn’t just the place they will live, it’s the community around them and how they will live their daily lives that we also imagine. 


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116 Housing Options Series - The Story of Lonely Worm Farm

No matter how alone we sometimes feel there is always someone who understands our journey even if they are taking a different road than us.


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115 Housing Options Series - Zetetick Housing - Quality Housing for Supported Living

Continuing with the series on Housing Options, this week the focus is on Supported Living with Jonathan Spencer the CEO of Zetetick Housing. 


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114 Housing Options Series - Main Street: Bring Your Own Independence

Moving into our own space is part of becoming an adult and embracing the independence that brings.


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113 Grace Eyre Profile Series - How The Sum Of The Parts Makes The Whole

Solo episode this week where I talk about what I’ve learnt in the conversations I’ve had as part of the Grace Eyre Profile Series.

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112 Grace Eyre Profile Series - Listening To The Voices That Matter Most

Everyone should have the right to decide their own future but too often people with additional needs simply aren’t given a voice.
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111 Grace Eyre Profile Series - Let’s Work Together
Getting into paid employment is a major challenge for people with additional needs. Programs that support people to develop their employability skills and enable them to break down the barriers into work play an essential role.
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110 Grace Eyre Profile Series - The Travel Buddy Project - Getting Out And About
One of the core skills for an independent life is independent travel. At Grace Eyre the Travel Buddy Project focuses on supporting people to develop the confidence, self awareness and knowledge they need to travel independently.
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109 Grace Eyre Profile Series - Connections For Life
Social interactions are an essential part of being human, providing us with connections and often a purpose. In this episode with Jenny Good from the Friendship Group and Colleen Maytham and Mario Antoon from Active Lives we explore the ways to make and keep these connections
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108 Grace Eyre Profile Series - Shared Lives - Common Goals
Sharing our lives is what we all do but often we don’t realize the impact we can have on other people’s lives. In this episode with David Matthews – Head of Service Shared Lives
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107 Grace Eyre Profile Series - Choosing The Future

Having the right to choose how we live our lives is a fundamental human right and one that in the past many people with additional needs haven’t been given.
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106 Grace Eyre Profile - A Place To Call Home
Moving into a place of our own is a major life event. For a person with additional needs it can often be the first significant step on their journey to greater independence.
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105 Grace Eyre Profile - Creating A Roadmap To Navigate The Future

The future can be scary if you really don’t know what your options are. Having a roadmap with ideas of where to start would help and what that involves is the topic of this episode with Tom Conroy, the new business manager at Grace Eyre.
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104 Grace Eyre Profile - Looking Back To Move Forward
Welcome to this first episode of this Profile Series on The Grace Eyre Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting people with additional needs to live their lives exactly how they want to.
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103 Bridging The Gap - The Role of Parents - Things we can do For and things we can do With

The Bridging The Gap series has been all about highlighting some of the organisations that are providing solutions for young people, so they have more options when they want to move from school into employment.
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102 Bridging The Gap - Forward2Employment: Reimagining The Future

In this part 2 of my conversation with the team at Forward2Employment (F2E) the focus is on the role of the job coach as well as hearing from current interns and from graduates of the supported internships program.
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101 Bridging The Gap - Forward2Employment: Building The Foundations For Change

In this episode of the Bridging The Gap series I’m talking to the team at Forward2Employment (F2E) about their supported internships program. This episode is really about getting the foundations in place with Liz Halton, the Head of F2E, explaining why the program came about and how it was created as well as the vision of F2E to change the employment expectations of young people with additional needs.
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100 Celebrating the 100th Episode and the stops on the journey so far

Time for a celebration and to reflect on the journey so far. It all started out with an idea that there had to be more out there for my daughter. I saw that she and other children, with additional needs, need extra support, in specific areas, to build the skills that will enable them to live more independently as adults.
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99 Bridging The Gap - The Oaks Specialist College: The Results

In this the second part of my conversation with staff and students from The Oaks Specialist College it’s all about the results. We hear from Joshua Epstein, the Careers Leader, about his role and the importance of job coaches but also making sure the young people they work with develop skills they can use when any support is removed.
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98 Bridging The Gap - The Oaks Specialist College: The Vision

In this the first episode of a new series on Bridging The Gap I’m talking to two people from The Oaks Specialist College based in the UK. This episode is really about vision. Gordon Tillman, the CEO, discusses why The Oaks came into existence and its role not only in changing the lives of the young people it supports but also changing the perceptions of businesses and communities.
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97 Ways Into Work – Perceptions and Parents: Why Both Matter So Much

In this the final episode of this Ways into Work series I’m doing a solo episode to talk about my learnings from the past 8 episodes. It’s definitely not a recap of the previous episodes but more my ideas around the two things I see as being pivotal in enabling many more young people to get into paid employment.
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96 Ways Into Work – Apprenticeships And Other Ships

In this episode the focus is on Apprenticeships as one of the Ways Into Work. Mark Capper, the Business Development Manager at Mencap UK, discusses the role that supported internships and traineeships play in preparing people for work.Read more

95 Ways Into Work – Changing the Narrative

In this episode of The Ways Into Work series, the focus is on the barriers that prevent many young people, with additional needs, getting and keeping paid employment. Read more

94 Ways Into Work - Supported Employment

The focus of this episode, in the Ways Into Work series, is Supported Employment with David Stenning from The Education People. David talks about the Supported Employment model and putting the young person at the centre but also supporting those around them. Read more

93 Ways Into Work - Inclusive Job Boards Part 2

In this the second part of Ways Into Work – Inclusive Job Boards Jane Hatton from Evenbreak discusses the importance of young people with additional needs learning to truly value the transferable work skills they already have, which have often been developed because of their life experiences.Read more

92 Ways Into Work - Inclusive Job Boards Part 1

In this episode of the Ways Into Work series we are talking to Jane Hatton from Evenbreak about how their inclusive Job Board is connecting employers with premium employees.Read more

91 Ways Into Work - Communities and Networks

Latest episode in the Ways Into Work series. In this episode we discuss with Richard Lamplough from My Employment Passport the role of local communities in providing paid work opportunities for young people with additional needs.Read more

90 Ways Into Work - Supported Internships Part 2

In this episode we continue the series Ways Into Work exploring the role of employers, education providers, government agencies and parents in creating Supported Internship programs that help young people with additional needs find and retain paid work.Read more

89 Ways Into Work - Supported Internships Part 1

In this new series Ways Into Work we start off by looking at Supported Internships how they work and why this model has proved so successful at getting young people with additional needs into long term paid employment.Read more

88 Staying Positive to Move Forward

After speaking to organisations in both the UK and USA, I believe there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in the future, despite the recent impact of employment opportunities for young people with additional needs due to Covid. It seems to me that we collectively have a stronger sense of community after the…Read more

87 Spectrum Designs: Committed To Making An Even Bigger Impact

The pandemic will have a disproportionate effect on the lives of young people with additional needs. This is true.  But whilst there are organisations out there like Spectrum designs then it’s not all bad news. In this episode, the final episode in my series on the impact of the pandemic on employment for young people…Read more

86 The Able Workers: Building Momentum With Community Support

Who opens a coffee shop during a pandemic? Well the guys at Able Coffee Roasters do! In this episode, part of the series on the impact of the pandemic on employment for young people with additional needs, I talk to Adeel and Anthony about exactly how they did this and why community support has helped them do even better…Read more

85 Pure innovations - Looking At What We Can Do Differently

Neil Willows, from Pure Innovations, discusses the impact of Covid and the UK lockdown on the supported internship programs Pure Innovations runs. He talks about the effect it has had on paid employment opportunities and young people’s mental health. But he also outlines the ways they are working to open up job roles…Read more

84 Invictus Enterprises: Embracing The Challenge To Deliver Differently

Alison Berkley from Invictus Enterprises talks about the impact of the pandemic on Invictus and how the way they’ve responded has actually opened up new opportunities. She explains how the pandemic meant that future plans they had for program delivery got accelerated and why the pandemic could be a catalyst for more…Read More

83 Acceptable Enterprises - Showing why social value has an economic value

David Hunter from Acceptable Enterprises talks about the impact of the pandemic on their various businesses. While the online business is growing, other parts haven’t been so lucky. But opportunities to pivot have been found as well the chance to expand other initiatives. Find out why David is also focused on showing…Read more

82 We’re Back and Ready For Change

The podcast is back after a short break with a new name to reflect a renewed passion to promote real change. Find out why we changed the name and what we are doing next including what to look forward to in our first series which is looking at the impact of the Pandemic on work opportunities for people with Additional…Read more

81 Changing Attitudes At WAVE

By changing attitudes we change behaviour, and this is something the guests on this week’s episode are part of making happen. Celia and Maya from WAVE talk about the ethos behind WAVE, and how it aims to bring people together, and by doing that helps change the way they think and their attitudes…Read more

80 Developing Transferable Skills

The average person has between 12-15 jobs in their work life. This makes developing transferable skills an essential part of any employability training. A great example of how to make this happen comes from Sunflower Bakery. This week’s guest Sara Portman Milner, co-founder of Sunflower Bakery, shares their story as…Read more

79 Providing A Compass

Sometimes we need to change direction quickly and find the right information so that we can make an informed decision as to which road we need to take. This week’s guest Kerrie Highcock helps provide that information. Kerrie is the Family Development Manager at North East Autism Society, and her role is not only to…Read more

78 Creative Community at the CO/LAB Theater Group

When we go to the theatre we see a different world than the one we live in. Theatre can broaden our horizons challenge our perceptions and this is exactly what the CO/LAB Theater Group aims to do. CO/LAB provides, people with additional needs, a space to be creative and along the way change their perceptions of…Read more

77 Presumption Of Employment

When we’re young we think we can do anything, be anyone, achieve everything. But as many of us get older we learn to fit into the box of expectations. For young people with additional needs this box can be small, with many assuming that they will not be entering the employment market…Read more

76 Getting Ready For Work

For many young people with additional needs finding a job can be incredibly challenging. It takes planning and for most requires them to go way outside their comfort zone. This week’s guest Dr Michael Reiter runs work readiness workshops and he talks us through the three areas he focuses on to help the emerging…Read more

75 Planning A Future Without You

If not now when? Planning for the future can be scary for anyone but it’s especially hard when that planning is for a young person who we know will face any number of challenges as they  navigate towards their ideal life…Read more

74 Managing Mental Health

We all appreciate the importance of good mental health but sometimes lack the toolbox and even the support to consistently achieve it. This is often the case for young people, particularly those with an additional need.  In this episode we are talking with Kimmy Obo from Kooth a UK based organisation offering…Read more

73 Learning to Relax

Emotions are part of being human.  But for many of us there are times when we wish we had better tools to manage our emotions. This can be especially true for young people with additional needs who often face extra internal and external emotional triggers. In this episode we hear from Dana Bishop a Relax Kids coach on…Read more

72 Attracting The Best Person For The Job At Specialisterne

Everyone has unique skills; everyone is a specialist in something. This is something this week’s guest Thorkil Sonne from Specialisterne understands completely. Specialisterne which translates from Danish as “The Specialists” is an organisation focused on helping young people with additional needs find meaningful…Read more

71 Flipping The Switch At Spotlight Brewing

Sometimes it’s the small ideas that can have the biggest impact and this is certainly the case with this week’s guest Ric Womersley from Spotlight Brewing. Ric founded Spotlight Brewing to make great beer whilst providing genuine employment opportunities for people with additional needs. Not only is Spotlight…Read more

70 Promoting Collaboration At Yoocan

We sometimes feel that we are alone in our journey but often by simply looking around we realise we are not. The focus of this week’s podcast, Yoocan proves this in the way they provide an online space to share stories and to inspire each other. In this interview Moshe Gaon co-founder of Yoocan explains why…Read more

69 Seeing Below The Surface

Accepting ourselves by embracing our strengths and understanding our weaknesses is key to our own happiness. How to do this is the theme of this episode with Alis Rowe founder of The Curly Hair Project…Read more

68 Stay Up Late

One of the best things about becoming an adult is that no one can tell you what to do, when to do it and what time to be home. However, that’s not always the case for young people with additional needs. Often they still have rules in place that don’t apply to their peers. Stay Up Late is all about changing that and…Read more

67 Increasing The Options With Scope

Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Most of us didn’t but we figured it out along the way because we were given opportunities for part time work or work experience. For many young people with additional needs this doesn’t happen, meaning they don’t always have a clear idea of their options…Read more

66 Taking Off The Mask

It’s fine to be aware and even try and understand autism but actually what matters most is acceptance. This is the view of Kieran Rose, also known as The Autistic Advocate. Kieran has autism so he speaks from personal experiences and explains why he believes that acceptance is what is needed even more than…Read more

65 Finding The Right Fit Into Work

It’s not only about finding work, but it’s also about matching the skills of the person with the job. This is the view of Derek Groves, from Employment Futures, who discusses the idea of vocational matching and the many benefits it brings to a young person with additional needs and employer. He also talks about…Read more

64 The Able Workers

What next? is a question we constantly ask ourselves as we help our young people navigate through the education system. As they get older and age out of the system, this question becomes more urgent and often the answer isn’t as easy to find. This week’s guests Adeel and Anthony asked that exact question and when no…Read more

63 Like Minded People Who Think Differently

Finding a supportive safe space for our children to have a variety of social experiences is so important. In this episode, we hear about CASPA which is providing that space and doing a whole lot more. Helen Dyer from CASPA explains not only how CASPA came about and what it does in terms of providing social experiences… Read more

62 Adding New Dimensions At Spectrum Designs

Only successful organizations can provide sustainable, long term paid employment and expand to provide more job opportunities. This weeks guest Patrick Bardsley and Tim Howe from Spectrum Designs certainly understand this. Spectrum Designs is a social enterprise making custom apparel, such as hats, hoodies, and…Read more

61 Why Reasonable Adjustments Are Just That

We all understand why work is an important step towards independent living, but all to often the employment opportunities are limited for young people with additional needs…Read more

60 Building An Integrated Future On Main Street

For most of us being part of a community is essential for our wellbeing and often starts where we live. This week’s guest is Jillian Copeland from Main Street, an organization not just building a community but actually building the space where that community can grow and thrive…Read more

59 Be More Kind To Yourself

Accepting ourselves and being more kind to ourselves are the themes in this episode. Anna Pinkerton from Kindness Incorporated talks about her personal and professional journeys and how she has combined them to help her daughter build the life she wants…Read more

58 Collaborating For The Future

Any journey is made easier by walking with others. That is the focus of this episode – the impact of collaboration with, in this case, the theater as the space where the collaboration starts…Read more

57 Preparation Is Key on A Curious Journey

Days out and going on holiday are an important part of family life, but when a young person has additional needs they can be much more of a challenge. How to make the process easier is the focus of this podcast episode with Lizzie Murphy, from A Curious Journey, offers some tips and ideas on traveling with children who…Read more

56 Making Reality Easier Using Virtual Reality - Part 2

What might be the future uses of virtual reality, and how do we need to manage this to stop potential dependence on technology? These are the main themes of this episode…Read more

55 Making Reality Easier Using Virtual Reality - Part 1

The use of virtual reality and virtual worlds can be used to change the future for our young people and just how this is happening is the topic of this episode. My guest this week is Dr. Nigel Newbutt who is researching how virtual reality and virtual worlds can be used to help young people with additional needs access…Read more

54 Flying High With Pegasus

All around us are people working in their local communities to make the lives of young people with additional needs better. This week’s podcast guest Sue Clark is one of these people. Sue talks about her work with Pegasus Playscheme which is located on the south coast of England…Read more

53 People Not Profits At Impacting Lives

Getting to know any young person is the essential first step in understanding what they need when it comes to helping them achieve greater independence. This is the core ethos of this week’s podcast guests Trudy and Darren Dzirasa-Payne from Impacting Lives…Read more

52 Exploring All The Possibilities With Mike Sweeney

Rather than waiting until we have to act the better option is to start exploring what is already out there and start actively working towards creating solutions. This is exactly what this week’s podcast guest Mike Sweeney is doing…Read more

51 The Support Group Experience

At some point in all of our journeys, we need support. Some of us find it in family and friends, others look to support groups. In this week’s podcast, Elaine Kelly, who runs a support group, talks about how support groups can help when maybe others around you simply don’t get it…Read more

50th Episode Celebration

This is a celebration episode, celebrating reaching 50 episodes, celebrating all the amazing guests who have been on the podcast and are out there changing the lives of young people and helping ensure that they will have the kind of independent lives they want…Read more

49 Carving Job Opportunities at Pure Innovations

Job carving can help create sustainable employment opportunities according to this week’s podcast guest Neil Willows from Pure Innovations…Read more

48 Tennis As Therapy With Love Serving Autism

Tennis, because of its repetitive nature, is an excellent therapeutic tool which can develop not only physical skills but also builds language and social skills, according to this week’s podcast guest Lisa Pugliese, from Love Serving Autism…Read more

47 Be The Light With Claire Sutton

The job of a parent is to be there whatever and whenever for your child – those are the rules! That certainly applies to Claire Sutton, this week’s podcast guest. Claire shares her truly inspiring, but sometimes heart-breaking, story. Her daughter Jade, who is now 14 years old, has ADHD. The road to getting Jade…Read more

46 Invictus Enterprises: Building The Steps Into Work

What happens to young people with additional needs when they finish full-time education? How will they find employment? How will they cope on their own throughout adulthood?. One organization helping to provide some of the answers to these questions is Invictus Enterprises based in New York. In this week’s podcast,…Read more

45 Team Domenica - Supporting Success In The Workplace

Successful sustainable employment opportunities for young people with additional needs comes when support is provided for not just the young person but also for their employer too. This is the message in this week’s podcast with Lisa Campbell-Squires from Team Domenica. Team Domenica is a social enterprise charity…Read more

44 Using Storytelling To Build Self Worth

To truly learn, it has to be caught rather than taught is the mantra of this week’s podcast with Diane King, author and special needs teacher. One way to do this and at the same time develop childrens’ self-worth is through storytelling and creativity…Read more

43 Yes She Can Inc.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right,” according to Henry Ford: this week’s podcast guest Marjorie Madfis clearly believes this to be true. With Yes She Can Inc., Marjorie has not only created employment opportunities for her own daughter, but she has also created a training…Read more

42 Wake Up To Sleep

Do you need more sleep because your child needs more sleep? Maybe this weeks guest can help.Vicki Dawson is the CEO of The Children’s Sleep Charity and helped write the Children and Young People’s Sleep Manifesto presented to the UK government, which argued among other things for quality sleep support to be…Read more

41 Living With Dyspraxia

What is Dyspraxia? If you don’t know or if you do and want to know more this week’s podcast is for you My guest Christine Draper has written a book called My Friend Josh has Dyspraxia to help more people understand dyspraxia and, more importantly, help more people understand what it means for her son Luke who has…Read more

40 The Shed - Providing A Space For Change

Everyone needs a Shed – a place to go, to be. But this Shed is much more than that, it is a space for people with additional needs to build independence and work skills and engage with their local community…Read more

39 Project Search At The Marriott

Work is central to most of our lives. It not only provides a purpose to our day but also makes us feel an integral part of the society we live in. In this week’s podcast we hear about the Project Search program, being run at the Marriott Hotel in Heathrow UK, which provides an innovative approach to help young people…Read more

38 Stepping Back - Part 2

Friendships and purpose are two of the most important things to have in our lives. For young people with additional needs finding these can sometimes be a challenge. In part 2 of Stepping back Milla Johnson, an Occupational Therapist, and Lisa Campbell, a Speech and Language Therapist, discuss how to manage…Read more

37 Stepping Back - Part 1

The challenge of stepping back and letting our children take risks and make mistakes is never easy. How to deal with this challenge is the theme of this week’s podcast where I speak to Lisa Campbell, a Speech and Language Therapist, and Milla Johnson, an Occupational Therapist. Lisa and Milla discuss why…Read more

36 Planning Ahead

Planning ahead helps us reach our goals, and although we can’t prepare for everything, a plan gives us a general direction to travel and can even help us identify a final destination. In this week’s episode, we hear from Laura who has helped her son Jonathon plan ahead. This planning has enabled him to create a…Read more

35 Enterprising Ideas At Acceptable Enterprises

A social enterprise must first achieve success as an enterprise before they can deliver on any of their social objectives, that is the message from this week’s podcast guest David Hunter. David is the CEO of Acceptable Enterprises Ltd (AEL) who are based in Larne, Northern Ireland and provide employment opportunities…Read more

34 Letting Go

The term ‘letting go’ means different things to different people. Sometimes as parents we have to let go of our own expectations of what our children’s lives will look like.This was the case for this week’s guest Fiona who found that once she let of her own expectations it opened up a new world of possibilities…Read more

33 Providing Opportunity Not Charity

One day soon people with additional needs will be valued as contributors to society and not just as passive recipients of social care, this is the vision that Matt and Steve from Skillnet Group share in this episode…Read more

32 Having A Sense Of Control

The best way to boost the self-esteem of our children is to let them have their say, give them a voice and help them to feel a sense of control, according to Soli Lazarus this week’s podcast guest…Read more

31 Friendships Matter

“We all want friends, a misconception about people on the spectrum is that they don’t want friends” Jamie Wheeler tells us in this week’s podcast.  Jamie runs Austen’s Autistic Adventures, based in Richardson, Texas, a social group where people over the age of 18 can meet friends and engage in fun activities…Read more

30 It's All About The Beer @ Ignition Brewery

It is possible to create a viable business while employing people with additional needs and this week’s podcast guest proves that. Nick O’Shea is the founder of Ignition Brewery in London, a successful business employing people with additional needs. At Ignition Brewery it’s all about the beer because as Nick has…Read more

29 Seeing Clearly With Antonia Chitty

Being able to see properly can really transform a child’s life according to Antonia Chitty. As a qualified optometrist and author Antonia is passionate about getting all children’s sight checked. She explains that many parents feel daunted at the prospect of taking their child with additional needs for an eye test…Read more

28 Finding A Common Language

Being listened to and being understood are important to us all, but this can be difficult when you struggle to find a common language. Language is the way we communicate and if you can’t communicate with others the impact can be devastating. This week I talk with Veronica, Mum to Emma, who has a speech and…Read more

27 The L'Arche Community

 Feeling like you belong to a community and being accepted for who you are is important to all of us. This week we talk to James Cuming, Community Leader, at L’Arche Kent who explains how L’Arche provides both of these for people all over the world, some who have additional needs. James explains the history of…Read more

26 Kiwi - A Step Dad's Story

Being a step parent brings with it some unique challenges. In this episode Rob stepdad to two boys, one, Thomas, who has autism and ADHD, talks about his experiences as a stepdad…Read more

25 Keep Calm and Be Prepared

When faced with a storm the key is to stay calm and get prepared for whatever it might bring. Sometimes dealing with the system and fighting for your child with additional needs is like sailing into a storm. This week Caroline, in part 2 of her interview, talks about her experiences of staying calm and…Read more

24 Making Sense Of It All

Most of us go through our day unaware of how our brain is continuously filtering everything our senses are picking up. This filtering means we are only left with the information we really need and we don’t get sensory overload.  This week we talk to Caroline who explains to us what happens when those filters are…Read more

23 Shared Lives

Independence can be reached in many ways. Shared Lives in the UK offers one approach to help people with additional needs develop independence focused skills based on a holistic approach. This week we talk to Karen from Shared Lives who explains how this innovative program works…Read more

22 The Able Label

There’s a solution out there for every challenge, including finding clothing designed to make getting dressed easier. This week we talk to Katie Ellis, from The Able Label, a UK based clothing manufacturer…Read more

21 Hang In There

Not giving up, hanging in there – is the theme of this week’s podcast interview with Carmelina. She shares her journey with her son Dominic with us. Sometimes picking your battles is the key, as small things become your focus when you need to be looking at the bigger picture. We need to decide what will make the…Read more

20 Realising Every Dream (REDinc.)

REDinc offers a model worth replicating when it comes to helping young people achieve their work related dreams according to Mitch Halligan Work and Training Coordinator at REDinc…Read more

19 Be Brave

You need to be brave and a bit terrified at the same time when it comes to building independence skills, according to Robyn in the second part of her son’s story. The key is to not underestimate our children and what they can do, but you will always struggle with your own fears when letting them be more…Read more

18 Get Your Cranky Pants On

You need to focus forward 100%, and not waste your energy looking backwards, according to Robyn. Robyn lives in Sydney with her son Riley, his younger brother and her husband. She talks about the early years, finding out Riley has autism and how their family dealt with this news. As she says Riley is a child with…Read more

17 A Lasting Interest in Sport

Finding an interest as child, such as in sport, can lead to a lifelong passion that lasts right through adolescence and adulthood, and provides a strong connection to a community and a focus for life. This is the opinion of Maire who shares her story in this week’s podcast…Read more

16 At the Beginning

Everyone’s journey is very different but sometimes listening to someone else’s journey can help us on our own way. This week we talk to Carol, mother to Leo, about her and her family’s journey with him. His leaving home is still a way off for them, but there are many small steps to take along the way with which we…Read more

15 Believe

The earlier you know what you’re dealing with the easier it is to seek out the right support and put in place the right plan. This is the opinion of Scarlett, mother to Edith. She believes her daughter Edith will achieve a great deal because her daughter has an in born desire to be independent.  Edith’s spirit…Read more

14 When to Take the Stabilisers Off

Knowing when to take the stabilisers off, and not just on a bicycle, is key to moving towards achieving any goal. This is the view of Jackie, mother to Joe who has additional needs, including a speech and language disorder…Read more

13 Happy Holidays

Holidays are a time to relax, rewind and recharge, but more often than not they end up being less about fun and more about stress. Vicki, an experienced travel consultant, shares tips for making travel less stressful. She understands our perspective because she is also a mother to a daughter with additional needs…Read more

12 Building Resilience in the Forest

Laura Ashfield is an outreach worker for the Surrey Wildlife Trust.  She believes the forest is a great place to learn about ourselves as well as the rhythms of nature.  More than this, she passionately believes the forest is a place that can help us discover our place in the world…Read more

11 Long Term Goals Built On Small Steps

Andy, a father to a son with ASD and ADHD, takes a strategic view of independence, rather like a business plan.  Because he does this, he and his wife have a clear vision of what they hope their son will be able to do age 21…Read more

10 Perseverance Pays Off Part II

Success stories inspire us all. Proof that perseverance pays off is shown by Jacob and Sarah as Sarah explains the second part of Jacob’s story: leaving school.  Jacob has ambitions to work in the music industry, and is currently holding down a testing job as a barman to save money towards a year long course at Abbey…Read more

09 Perseverance Pays Off Part I

With perseverance many great things can be achieved.  Sarah is living proof of this with her son Jacob, who has Asperger’s.  In this two part podcast we will hear how Sarah guided Jacob through school and gave him the skills to succeed in quite a demanding job.  This really is a success story that is inspiring and one…Read more

08 Finding Fashion That Works

Matching clothes to the occasion is a challenge for us all. This week Elika Gibbs, owner of Practical Princess, is here to help.  She professionally advises her clients on fashion and the organisation of wardrobes…Read more

07 Ace That Interview

Preparation and practice: these are the keys to interview success. This is the advice from Sam, an experienced HR director, who this week shares her expertise on how to not only survive the interview but how to succeed. She covers what needs to be included in a CV, and discusses questions you should expect as well as…Read more

06 We Are Family - Sibling Relationships

Sibling relationships are never easy, especially if one sibling has additional needs. This week I talk to Julie, a mother of 2 children, about her experiences and the challenges.  She talks about the tactics she uses to make family life work for everyone and her ideas for creating a sibling bond through…Read more

05 House to Rent, No Experience Required

Independent living means having your own place to live.  Finding that place isn’t always easy.  In this episode Julia, a landlord who is renting out a property to young people with additional needs, tells us why.  We hear that finding a place to rent requires perseverance and sometimes a dose of optimism…Read more

04 A Brush with Authority

Ian is an ex-police officer who dealt with incidents where young people with additional needs were involved.  He saw how a lack of understanding on both sides could often turn difficult situations into highly stressful experiences for everyone…Read more

03 Building Social Skills and Resilience

Emily Hughes is an Australian social worker currently living in London. She is an expert in developing social skills. In this discussion she shares her tools and tactics for enabling children to develop their social skills, build resilience and independently navigate their way through the challenges they face…Read more

02 Growing Up with Asperger's

A mother shares the strategies and tactics she uses to help her son, who has Asperger’s, develop the skills he needs and prepare him for an independent life…Read more

01 The Ark Project

The Ark Project is a local community project in Southern England which aims to help young adults with additional needs develop practical work skills.  The project encompasses a working bakery and small holding with produce sold to local businesses.  This interview is with the founder of the project Hester and we learn…Read more


Debra Caldow explains the aims and purpose of the podcast and  what she hopes listeners will take away from this podcast…Read more

Red Giraffe Guide

This guide is aimed at children who may live semi or fully independently at some point in the future, but a lot of the principles will benefit children with more challenging needs. One of the key objectives we have as parents is to make our children feel better about themselves and build up their self-esteem and confidence.

Your FREE Red Giraffe Guide is on its way!