Written by Jo Tolley, a budding freelance writer supported by Linkage Community Support.
On Tuesday 11th December, Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne visited Linkage Community Trust to officially open Boultham Park Education Centre. The occasion was the climax of an eight-year, £4.2 million partnership between Linkage and Lincoln City Council.
In 2010, the two organisations joined forces to expand Linkage’s facilities as part of the Boultham Park Restoration Project. This partnership has embodied the charity’s vision that people with learning difficulties and disabilities have opportunities and choice and are supported to achieve their aspirations. Through building ten bungalows and six flats, the trust is now more equipped to support clients with learning disabilities living in their own homes. Moreover, the Education Centre enables the charity to continue to deliver high-quality education to ensure their students can reach their full potential. The collaboration with the Council has revitalised the sense of community within the area. Linkage Boultham Park Café and the Glasshouse offers workplace environments which are open to the public in order for Linkage clients to increase their confidence and independence. Through these daily interactions, integration and inclusion is available to all.
During the visit, the Princess Royal toured the Boultham Park Campus interacting on a personal level with the clients and staff as well as observing some of the educational syllabus and lesson activities. This allowed her to see first-hand the importance and the benefits of the project.
Her Royal Highness previously visited Linkage in 2007 when she opened the MacKenzie Building of Weelsby Hall. Speaking at the engagement on Tuesday, she stated that a substantial amount of time had passed and that a lot had changed. She then congratulated all parties involved in the development before commenting that she suspected there will be a need for future expansion.
The Princess’ remarks would have rung true for Founders Rex Richardson and Don MacKenzie who established the charity in 1976. Throughout its forty-three-year history, Linkage has evolved and grown whilst remaining close to its roots. In his welcoming speech at Tuesday’s momentous occasion, Rex said: “We saw a niche gap in the market…We realised that there weren’t any services to help adults with learning difficulties progress…We wanted to help them live independently”. This vision was evidently correct as Linkage now employs over six-hundred members of staff all of whom help hundreds of clients with learning disabilities each week to achieve their independence.
As Her Royal Highness rightly exclaimed, “Linkage works!”
This article was written by Jo Tolley. Jo is budding freelance writer with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, she is supported by Linkage Community Support.
Jo’s website www.writtenwheel.co.uk is amixture of blogs about her own experiences as a person with a disability, poetry, and articles she has written for a range of organisations.