Young Volunteers

Lifeworks present the Building Connections pilot evaluation


Lifeworks is proud to present to you the evaluation of the Building Connections pilot that ran over 3 months earlier this year. The pilot was led by Lifeworks, working within the Branchline Partnership with Dasi, The Project and Soundart Radio.

Click Here to Read about the Building Connections pilot evaluation



Over the last year, a need has become apparent:

“Peer support is very important for young people, helps them realise they are not the only one.” (Parent)

“I just like to see people be happy; this is a great opportunity for everybody; to tell people – you’re not alone” (Lifeworks Young Volunteer)

With support from the Co Op Foundation the Branchline partnership is currently working with young volunteers to create a peer-led support group and together combat YOUTH LONELINESS. The Building Connections Pilot was led by 10 learning disabled young people age 16-25 working together to create a safe space to connect on and offline. The project was enabled by the Branchline partnership and culminated in a Community Sharing Event attended by 39 people at the end of March, 2019:

“A fabulous afternoon. So great to see the capabilities of these young people. Warm and friendly ethos! Let’s get more community input.”

Feedback from parents of the young leaders is indicative of project value:

“Thank you to everyone involved with the Building Connections project.
It was a great opportunity to see the work that everyone has been engaged in and gave parents, carers and those from the wider community, the opportunity to hear the voice of our young people.

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!!

I feel so proud to be associated with such amazing young people.”




To hear the young leaders of this project speak about loneliness visit:

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” (Lifeworks Young Volunteer, Summer 2017)

In Development


Is being designed and developed in partnership with learning disabled young people, joining the process through their participation in Lifeworks Young Volunteers programme.

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)

Supported by Children in Need and the Sobell Foundation Lifeworks is working with partners across the SW to enable learning disabled young people age 14-18 to

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

Our aim is to give young people a platform to develop skills in leadership; follow their vocational aspirations, achieve formal accreditation in an informal learning environment and have a voice in their community.

In the spring of 2019 Lifeworks Young Volunteers helped cater; steward and entertain over 120 guests at our first ever LOVE YOUR VOLUNTEER event; “an inspiring event” Lifeworks Trustee


In 2019 EYP will be leading Breaking the Barrier, Lifeworks adventure sport offer; the development of Ordinary/Extraordinary, an arts festival celebrating the work of learning disabled young artists and Building Connections, peer-led support for learning disabled young people in South Devon and Torbay.

To get involved or for more information contact Mark Thorneywork E: [email protected]  M: 07964 710894

  • EYP 18+ 2018-2019

DWP have commissioned Lifeworks to extend our EYP programme to supporting learning disabled young adults 18+ to follow their vocational interests, gain work experience in areas of interest to them and work in partnership to develop social enterprise. The project is supporting 10 learning disabled young adults in receipt of ESA in the arts, sports, hospitality and catering. To date EYP participants have achieved work placement at Exeter City Football Club; Lifeworks Holiday Project, and Fermoy’s Garden Centre; 2 young people are working with the owner of the Kitchen Table Catering Company to learn the skills needed to develop their own catering enterprise and one young person has trained as a Junior swim coach ahead of leading accessible swim sessions at Dartmouth Pool for Fusion Leisure.

To get involved or for more information contact Matt Jefferies E: [email protected]
L:  01803 861063 M:  07976948518


Building on the success of Ordinary Art 2018 Lifeworks Young Volunteers are beginning to plan for Ordinary Art 2019. They wish to use the festival as a ‘safe space’ for learning disabled young artists to explore their experiences as learning disabled young people and potentially encourage social change – The Festival theme for 2019 is Loneliness:

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

To tell people “You are not the only one” Rhi

“Nobody is the same”

A provisional date of 25 and 26 October has been set. If you want to get involved, please contact Matt Jefferies M: 07976 948 518 email: [email protected]


Lifeworks has also begun to work in partnership with Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum to enable learning disabled young people to inform the design of their new museum space scheduled to open in 2020.


Recent Projects Involving Young Volunteers



During the Summer Lifeworks Young volunteers helped devise a pilot activity week exploring the 5 ways to wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give:

  • They worked with a youth mindfulness coach to construct a programme designed to increase confidence and resilience.
  • They helped raise funds for delivery – this involved incredible bravery for one young person who spoke to an audience of over 100 people about the importance of the young volunteer’s work.
  • They volunteered across 2 weeks of delivery, helping staff prepare each day, mentoring the group to encourage participation and reflecting daily as part of the team.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive:

“There has been an amazing variety of activities for them to do which has helped her mind as she has helped others doing things she would never try any other time.” (Parent)

And the impact tangible as 80% of young people participating in Keep Calm and Do It Anyway reported an increase in mental wellbeing post-project (WEMWBS)

To read a full evaluation of the KEEP CALM Pilot click here

On the advice of our Mindfulness coach who felt one week between questionnaires to be too short an amount of time to see any real difference in a person’s wellbeing. “Mindfulness, in particular, relies on regular practice and integration into everyday life for a period of weeks or months to feel any real benefit.” Lifeworks is delivering KEEP CALM TOO in Partnership with Lifeworks Young Volunteers at October Half Term, inviting the young people who took part in the Summer to reconvene.



This summer 6 Lifeworks Young Volunteers collaborated with Branchline artists to enable 50+ learning disabled children and young people engage with the heritage of South Devon Railway. Together they explored the stories of the old Ashburton – Totnes Branchline in the 6o year anniversary of its closure supported by amazing artists from Daisi, Dance in Devon and Soundart and Heritage experts from the South Devon Railway Trust, Ashburton Museum and Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum. The All Aboard project used to broadcast, print making, film making, digital art and even dance to bring the stories of the railway to life:

Audience response was overwhelmingly positive:

“a grand experience”

“Most fun I’ve had on a train in a long time”

To read a full evaluation of the ALL ABOARD Project click here


In 2017 a group of young film makers were commissioned by the arts council to create a 3-minute art film about their experience of growing up with a hidden disability.

“I had the time of my life over that weekend. This whole project felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll treasure forever. Fingers crossed it gets aired on Channel 4!” Young Film Maker 2017

“The Supercrips film: the way the young people explained how they felt was an eye opener – fantastic!”

“For once my sister wasn’t the outsider, the festival was a comfortable space.” (Ordinary Art Audience member 2018)

As a Lifeworks Young Volunteer you will have access to community projects training opportunities e.g. First Aid and Communication training; participate in the delivery of extraordinary events e.g. Breaking the Barrier and the Lifeworks Young Peoples Summer Ball and inform the development of our programme e.g. The Young Film Makers commissioned in 2017 by the Arts Council to make a short art film for Channel 4 Random acts.

For more information please download our information sheet here.
Or to speak to someone on the phone contact Tracey Hubbard (10-2 Monday – Friday) E: [email protected] T: 01803 861 069

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