A Norfolk-based project that helps adults with learning disabilities to volunteer, gain employment and access training courses is planning to expand, thanks to a 6-figure, 3-year grant from the Big Lottery Fund (12th September 2012).


The CSV Vocal Project, run by service provider CSV, will use the £420,000 to expand into new locations, including North and South Norfolk, as well as continuing its well-established work in West Norfolk.


CSV Vocal Project enables adults with learning disabilities to lead a fulfilling, independent life through volunteering with 1-2-1 support from a community volunteer mentor, until they are able to volunteer independently.


The project is already successful; last year 93% of participants reported that they felt they had more choice and control over their lives and 97% felt they were socialising more.


Recent volunteer work has included working on the Queen’s Estate at Sandringham with Natural England to reclaim the natural habitat, working as baristas in the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council offices and volunteering with several local children’s centres in King’s Lynn and Hunstanton.


The grant will also fund the roll-out of a new National Open College Network-accredited volunteering skills training course. Additionally, it will support the development of an innovative new partnership, with Norfolk Guidance Services providing volunteer support on work placements for those who wish to gain employment.


Jemma Mindham, CSV Vocal Project manager, said: “CSV is delighted to have received this three year grant as it will provide much needed stability for people with learning disabilities in a time of uncertainty and transition in the social care sector. It gives personalised support to adults with learning disabilities in order to volunteer and access community social opportunities, and provides the opportunity to expand this offering to include supported employment in partnership with other agencies locally.


“We will also now be able to offer this opportunity in more areas of Norfolk and to a more diverse range of individuals who would otherwise struggle to become valued members of their communities.”


Lucy de Groot, CSV’s chief executive, added that the funding will “open up a world of opportunities for adults with learning disabilities living in Norfolk.


“This will result in greater independence, increased inclusion in the community as well as challenging the perception of adults with learning disabilities – picking up from the London 2012 Paralympics and our collective commitment to an inspirational legacy.”