Young Volunteers

Lifeworks is keen to involve disabled and non-disabled young volunteers across all of our community projects – you might have a skill you want to share; be a brilliant surfer, DJ or footballer. You might have skills you want to learn; how to enable; plan and participate. Your starting point might be you want to gain work experience and improve your CV – but we hope once you’ve come on board you’ll gain a whole heap more through involvement.

“This is our chance to take the next step”    

(Young Volunteer)


Extraordinary Young People (EYP) 2018 – 2021

Our EYP project is designed and developed in partnership with young people with learning disabilities, putting them in the lead. It has been created in response to their voices and the issues that they encounter and the interests they have. They have at great length considered what it is to be ordinary and what it is to be extraordinary.

“If I want to have my feelings heard, this is my chance”

(Young Volunteer)

EYP aims to boost our young people’s confidence, participation, leadership skills and self-esteem through structured volunteering and accredited training – enabling young people with learning disabilities to take control of their own lives and helping them to overcome the fear of failure.

Supported by Children in Need and the Sobell Foundation Lifeworks is working with local, regional and national partners to enable Extraordinary Young People to:

  • Champion their ideas
  • Receive formal recognition as young leaders
  • Inspire other young people with learning disabilities to participate.

In Development

  • #ordinaryextraordinary

Building on the success of Ordinary Art, 2018 EYP Young Leaders have been commissioned by the Arts Council, Doing What Matters (DCC) and Film Hub SW to create a 2-day Art Festival exploring loneliness and wellbeing at Dartington Hall 25 and 26 October, 2019. They have encouraged the participation of young people with learning disabilities from Torbay, Devon and Plymouth and are collaborating with artists from The Turning Tides Project, Dance in Devon, Soundart Radio, Farflung Dance Theatre and Daisi. Together they are creating a ‘safe space’ to explore their experiences of mental wellbeing and loneliness in film, music, drama and dance, to encourage conversation and social change.

To find out more about how to join the Young Creative Team contact [email protected]

To find out more about #ordinaryextraordinary or to book on visit: https://www.dartington.org/event/ordinary-extraordinary-saturday-ticket/

“We are taking a risk; this is our chance for people to hear what we want to speak”

To tell people “You are not the only one”

“Nobody is the same”


Breaking the Barrier

Supported by Daytrippers Charity EYP Young Leaders have been enabling delivery of Breaking the Barrier – Lifeworks Flagship Adventure Sport Programme. With their support over 200 learning disabled young people and their families have been able to surf, cycle and paddleboard together as a family this summer:

“We are one of the Bristol families and CANNOT thank you enough for these wonderful inclusive family events. We had a fabulous day and to see our daughter be so amazing at surfing when everything else is so hard for her makes us (and her) so happy. Thank you to the amazing volunteers for all of their help”

Training is a big part of the EYP programme and the Sports Enablers on this project have undertaken Bikability, First Aid and Safeguarding training and one young person with a vocational interest achieved a L1 Swim Instructor Qualification and hopes to take on an apprenticeship soon at his local pool.

In collaboration with our new Sports Enablers Lifeworks is this year extending the Breaking the Barrier offer to deliver monthly Inclusive Family Cycle Sessions with accessible cycles at the Torbay Leisure Centre and Out of Season Surf sessions with Discovery Surf School – to find out more or to book on contact [email protected]

Next year our Sports Enablers want us to build ‘running’ and ‘swimming’ into the Breaking the Barrier Calendar – watch this space!


  Recent projects

The Ordinary Extraordinary Holiday Project (Summer 2019)

This summer 6 EYP Leaders supported delivery of the Holiday Project, a 4-week activity programme, they took on the role of mentor, enabler, role model, they encouraged, coaxed and helped 50 learning disabled children and young people participate. They came in early to prepare for the day, which this year included preparing fresh fruit and veg for picnic lunches, and stayed late to reflect on the day as members of the team:

“Really liked meeting the people I knew, and had never met before” (Young Volunteer, Summer 2019)

They helped create an environment where participants felt comfortable and relaxed even when trying something new:

“I like dancing I didn’t feel scared”(Participant, Summer 2019)

“Everyone challenged themselves” (Young Volunteer, Summer 2019)

“Thanks to all for running a super summer programme – Nina had a great time, and we really appreciate your hard work and dedication!”(Parent, Summer 2019)


Building Connections Pilot (Jan-March 2019)

events-combat-loneliness-lifeworks-devon-charity

With support from the Co-op Foundation, the Branchline partnership enabled 12 young people with learning disabilities, aged 16-24, use creative process to explore loneliness.

  • They shared their experience: “Of course I was bullied at college”
  • They shared what they wanted for themselves“My hopes and dreams are when I get a pass and a job”
  • They shared how they wanted to make change: “We do want to work with other young people our age, but they have to want to work with us. They have to appreciate what we can bring.”

“The message that young people have taken from this project is that they can achieve and be instrumental in making things happen. Often young people with learning disabilities are in a position of ‘being done to’, and what was so empowering about this project was that they were asked for their opinions, and encouraged to think about what they can do to make a difference.” Debbie Humberstone, Founder of The Project.

To read the full evaluation click here: Building Connections Evaluation Report, May 2019

Over the course of the pilot a seed was planted in the minds of the young leaders – they are now fired upon being heard. They want to start getting involved in, and leading projects around campaigning and activism. The young people are keen to raise awareness around the issues facing young people with learning disabilities, and the inequalities in their lives: mental health, bullying, isolation and loneliness. The young people are also excited about the idea of holding inclusive events and activities for young people to integrate regardless of disabilities and this project has given some ideas about how to do this.

“As a parent, I have seen my daughter grow in confidence and determination, and develop an increasing sense of belonging both within the group and the wider community. I loved the opportunity to engage with the group – and to hear the voices of our young people. The film was moving, thought-provoking, and empowering. It gave young people the opportunity to ask the questions, to raise the issue for themselves, and to challenge people to think about the issues in a gentle and effective way. Wow, it was brilliant!!”

Watch the film:

You can hear the young project leaders speak about loneliness:

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