Building Business Partnerships
Forever Savvy provides an outdoor, positive risk environment, developing practical transferrable skills for independent living and the workplace, to people with moderate/severe learning disabilities.
Those who attend experience a broad range of life skills such as land management, animal welfare, gardening and rural crafting. Our programme aims to improve the emotional health and physical wellbeing of the trainees in its care.
What started as an idea, Amanda Phelps had whilst standing in the middle of a field in 2011, has now become 3 established projects (Horse Savvy, Work Savvy and K9 Savvy), based over 2 centres and out in the workplace.
The first centre - Horse Savvy started its embryonic roots in a field in Thurlaston, running for two days a week with just two trainees and a lot of enthusiasm. From small beginnings it became clear that there was a need for the work being done, and growth was inevitable to extend its reach to more people with learning disabilities. This centre now runs from bigger premises in Potters Marston and is open 5 days a week supporting 4 trainees a day.
In 2014 Forever Savvy launched the Work Savvy pilot in partnership with Premier Inn, Leicester. Together they have enabled a Savvy trainee to experience a new level of independence through paid employment. Working as part of the Premier Inn housekeeping team with the assistance of a Forever Savvy support worker. After a successful year’s pilot, this project will now extend to other Savvy trainees taking them into the workplace once they have developed their skills and confidence at one of our centres.
2015, Forever Savvy saw the development and launch of its current pilot K9 Savvy. Angie Stokes was tasked with duplicating the successes of Horse Savvy in a new venue with dogs. The new centre at Bagworth concentrates on dog walking, dog agility as well as land management and woodworking skills utilising pallets where ever it can.
K9 Savvy opened its doors in July with a bare site and two trainees, with the mission to build and construct a suitable environment for trainees and dogs to learn over a 12-month period.
After a couple of appeals over social media for pallets United Biscuits based at Ashby De La Zouch found out about Forever Savvy and volunteered to help both centres in any way they could.
The United Biscuits Team have been invaluable at the rapid development of the K9 Savvy project, coming out on a weekly basis and assisting the Savvy team in constructing a locker room, crafting and woodwork space entirely out of recycled pallets. This space means the trainees have gained hands on experience and have shelter from bad weather, where they can continue to gain skills.
With a constant supply of pallets, the trainees will soon be turning their skills to making the agility equipment for the border collies they work with. Chris Barnett a professional dog trainer has kindly volunteered her time to teach K9 Savvy how to work with the dogs over an agility course. Encouraging trainees to use their voices clearly and confidently to make themselves understood. A skill that can be transferred to social, work and home life.
Because of United Biscuits help the pilot is 3 months ahead of schedule and has already taken on a third trainee to experience the benefits offered by working outside with dogs.
Once the pallet construction is completed K9 will be extending its services to additional days and other trainees, providing continual learning and transferrable skills to people with moderate/severe learning disabilities. When fully established in Bagworth we look forward to providing a dog walking service to the local community.
Amanda Phelps and Angie Stokes are parents of young adults with learning disabilities and believe “It is all too easy as a parent of a young adult with disabilities to overlook what their FULL potential could be.” Using positive risk environments, coaching and mentoring techniques, Forever Savvy is encouraging and showing people that anything is possible! For many young adults with disabilities there is no reason; given the right encouragement and training, why paid employment isn't a possibility. Forever Savvy and it’s three projects (Horse Savvy, K9 Savvy and Work Savvy) is committed to realising the opportunities that exist out there.