Meet Ami, Bethan, Stacy & Daniel of Warrington’s Puddle Project
The Puddle Project, or ‘The Puddle’ for short, began as a regeneration project in 2014 to turn a piece of derelict land used for fly tipping into an environment full of flora, fauna and wildlife pools.
The project’s objective is to create a self-sustaining social enterprise that can continuously evolve in line with the strategic needs of Warrington Borough Council in bringing physical and mental well-being to the local community.
It also provides a rural educational facility for those with special needs. It is dedicated to raising awareness for the Special Educational Needs and Disability Community in Warrington.
The Puddle is also the first community organisation to create a fully sustainable renewable energy source of power for all its buildings and pods!
Leaders’ List nomination
Ami, 27, Bethan, 30, Stacy, 33, and Daniel, 33, are all part of the Puddle Project, supported by MacIntyre, and they initially came together to do something positive for their own mental health. However, after attending The Puddle once a week over the course of a year, this desire to help themselves gradually developed into a desire to make a difference in their community and share the natural, inclusive space they had been developing.
The group has done exceptional work – when they wanted to help families over the summer holidays, as part of Holidays, Activities and Food program (HAF), they hosted sessions for children and families. This involved facilitating and leading on days through the summer where families could come and have food together. As part of this, they planned and led sports, games and meetings with the animals.
“It was really good as I enjoyed working with the families and liked the parents and kids. My role was to show them around and help set up and play the games. I also did the food and drink orders at the start of the day too, and taught the young kids to play Boccia, as I’m very good at it, and won the Puddle World Cup! I feel confident working at The Puddle as I’ve been working there for over a year now with everyone.”
Ami, Bethan, Stacy and Daniel enjoyed combating misconceptions of people with learning disabilities and autism in their communities, showing families that people with learning disabilities and autism can be leaders and make a difference in their local area – particularly at a time that many families are struggling.
Through this work, they have all formed strong bonds and working relationships with one another and have demonstrated a huge growth in both skill and confidence.
Tara, Daniel’s support worker, MacIntyre, says…
“Daniel’s health, wellbeing and social skills have improved since day one at The Puddle. Before joining, Daniel was quite possessive over things and wasn’t keen on sharing. Over time, Daniel has built positive relationships with the others, trust, and friendship. Daniel feels he belongs to the group and now shares and offers without always being prompted.
“When walking, he feels safe and secure around the group and walks alongside them like he is a part of their pack. It is fantastic to see. Daniel uses these skills to interact with the families, taking turns and playing games alongside them. He takes pride in his responsibilities and values the praise he receives.”
All four of them have learned immensely about making people feel welcome, helping others feel included and following hygiene and health and safety standards, particularly around children.
Although it was challenging at first for them to see themselves as leaders, The Puddle Project also helped them see their own power and potential. All four are now keenly thinking about how they can support their community in other ways.
As a result of the skills they have developed, Ami and Stacy have accessed part time employment in Apple Jacks in Warrington!
“I enjoyed helping to motivate the kids by giving them a tour around the puddle. The families learned a lot from me as I told them about health and safety, like the rules around being close to the water and shutting the gates so the animals don’t escape. I found one of the families I worked with quite challenging as I was working with a girl who is autistic like me. Because she didn’t know the health and safety around The Puddle, I had to stay with her all the time to make sure she was okay and had fun. I have learnt these skills through being at The Puddle every week since it started.”
“I enjoyed it all, especially getting to know some new families and helping everyone, it was lots of fun. I learned how to calm down a young kid who was quite excited and I used to play with him to help him settle and relax. When I was doing the food and drink orders, I sometimes found that quite hard as I need help with my writing, so I had to remember the orders and pass them onto the kitchen before we made the drinks and snacks to give to the families!”
Meet the group
Ami has a learning disability and lives with her Shared Lives family and loves animals – she is a ‘rabbit whisperer’. Ami also loves her holidays and is a kind and caring person and good friend. She also enjoys cookery, choir, and dance and drama. Ami has a learning disability and has been working on her confidence to do the things that are important to her with the right support.
Bethan is very close with her family and lives with her mum and dad. She loves a celebration with a nice glass of wine and going out with her friends and swimming with her boyfriend. Bethan loves looking after horses with her Shared Lives carer and line dancing. She has autism and has overcome a breakdown in her mental health over the last couple of years, getting back out in the world and making a difference.
Stacy has a learning disability and lives in her own flat with her hamster, Tyler. She is a ‘party girl’ who is always up for fun. It is very important to Stacy to feel part of something. Stacy is talented at childcare and excels at chatting to others, being inclusive and making people feel welcome.
Daniel lives in a supported house. He can communicate through singing, Makaton and some BSL. Daniel enjoys being with others and is always sensory seeking. Every Friday at The Puddle, he gets involved and never forgets to care for the animals, especially the chickens. He knows where the food is and what each animal eats. Sometimes, he uses his own initiative to feed the animals independently. Daniel also enjoys being a part of the constructing and painting of new resources and equipment to be used at The Puddle; a rabbit hutch and coffin for Halloween last year as well as this year’s Christmas grotto!
Finding out they had been nominated
When the group found out they had been nominated they were all ‘shocked and excited’.
“It was great to see how confident the group have become working with the new people who came to the Puddle Project over summer. It’s clear the confidence and skills they have developed have really progressed from when they first started attending in 2021.
“Their leadership, communication, caring/support for others and customer service with both the parents and children was outstanding, and how they represented the Puddle Project and MacIntyre is a credit to them all.
“They all work well as a team and always stayed positive and enthusiastic throughout the four weeks of delivery to families. It was a genuine pleasure to see how they have developed and transferred their skills into such a positive activity for people in Warrington to enjoy. We are extremely proud of them all.” – Pete Connor, Great Communities Manager, MacIntyre.
Finding out they were Leaders’ List winners
Upon discovering they had won, just 10 minutes before we spoke with them (!), they all felt ‘excited, shocked and proud.’
The importance of the Leaders’ List and misconceptions
Pete Connor, Great Communities Manager, MacIntyre, believes that it is brilliant the team have been recognised for what they contribute to the community in Warrington.
The group believe there are many misconceptions of people with learning disabilities and/or autism:
“Some people shout on the bus and don’t understand what autism is. It is not nice to be singled out and looked at as funny.” – Stacy
“When I’ve been on the phone with someone, people look and laugh at me.” – Ami
“Come and spend a week with the group and see if you change your mind – I have seen the skills the team have developed change people’s opinions.” – Pete Connor.
Leaders’ List event on 2nd December
Ami, Bethan, Stacy and Daniel are all extremely excited about the event on 2nd December and The Puddle will gather everyone together to join.