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Sam’s Zoo-per Adventure: The Difference Outings Can Make

At Guideposts’ Day Opportunities scheme, adults with learning disabilities are supported to take part in both outings in the community, and activities in our Hubs. Through the scheme, Guideposts member Sam is able to access a carer so she can get out and about. She has recently enjoyed an outing to a zoo and is keen to share her experience.

Sam smiling and holding a brochure for Paradise Park.
Sam at Paradise Park

A Roar-some Day

Hello! I’m Sam and I’m a member of Guideposts’ Day Opportunities scheme in Ware. I receive 1:1 support from Jane, who helps me get out into the community. The scheme supports people with everyday things like going shopping and learning about money and cooking, as well as some more fun things like days out. Recently, I went to Paradise Park with Jane.

I booked my ticket online and carers go free. The cost of bringing along a carer can really add up otherwise. Tickets for people with disabilities were cheaper too. They would have been really expensive otherwise!

First, we looked at the lions and snow leopards. I love snow leopards but they weren’t out. They don’t seem to like the hot weather! We stopped for a drink and a snack at the Sun Bear Cafe. It was amazing! We had views into the bear area and could see them climb and play in the water. It was the first time I’d eaten with bears!

A photograph of a tiger, taken by Sam.

The Highlights

It was great chatting to the zoo-keepers and volunteers about my favourite animals. You usually just see them on TV or in documentaries but I felt really involved. One of the volunteers suggested other zoos I might like to visit too. Me and Jane are planning to take a look. It would be wonderful to go with some of my Guideposts friends too. I’m hoping to come here with my boyfriend too now that I’ve been here with Jane and have my bearings a little more.

I love watching zoo programmes and met my favourite characters from One Zoo Three, a programme all about Paradise Park! I’m so excited- they told me they are filming another series!

The zoo was such an interesting place to visit. There was so much to do. There were talks throughout the day, a paddling pool, miniature golf and an outdoor play area. Jane and I have bought a pass so we can come back again in the future. I’ve had the best day. It would have been so difficult to come here without Jane’s help.

Sam with members of TV series One Zoo Three at Paradise Park.

How Carers Make Outings Possible

Jane has been a support worker at Guideposts for over 30 years. She supports Sam for six hours a week.

“For many people with additional needs, having someone by their side during everyday life experiences in the community makes a huge difference to how they feel and how much they get from trips out.

The support I give as a support worker enables them to enjoy the everyday life experiences so many of us take for granted. I ensure service members have the respect and empathy they deserve, encouraging them to confidently take part in activities they perhaps wouldn’t do otherwise.

Outings give the perfect opportunity to practise using public transport, booking tickets, using money, budgeting and so many other skills needed for independence.

Sam and support worker Jane enjoy a snack in a cafe at the zoo.
Sam and support worker Jane

People with additional needs can face so many challenges when trying to enjoy what the community has to offer. They might face stigma and discrimination, or might find that the places they want to visit simply haven’t given much thought to people with sensory issues, impaired mobility, or who don’t find written information very accessible.

Alongside this, having to pay someone to support you, while paying for an extra ticket, can be very expensive. Given that people with a learning disability are more likely to face financial challenges, the cost of a carer can be prohibitive and really stop people getting out there and enjoying what life has to offer.

Sam really enjoys visiting zoos and taking photographs of the animals. She has developed so many skills and can really make the most of trips and outings. People with additional needs should be supported to live life the way they choose, and Sam and I are delighted she is able to do the things she loves.

Sam taking a photograph of  a wallaby.
Sam enjoys taking photographs of the animals.

Can You Help Us Support People Like Sam?

For over 50 years, Guideposts have sought to ensure people with learning disabilities are part of their community, able to enjoy local activities and friendships. There is currently greater aspiration to go on more adventurous and longer trips.

Our ‘Never Seen, Never Been’ campaign focuses on the aspirations of people with learning disabilities and what can be done to help them enjoy the things so many take for granted. Can you imagine never having been to a fun fair, seeing a mountain, or enjoying an overnight trip without your parents?

Through providing affordable supported group trips and breaks, we will give people with additional needs the opportunity to broaden their horizons and enjoy outings with friends. For many, the trips will mark the first time they have chosen their own food, been on a roller coaster, or stayed away from home without family. We’ve already enjoyed overnight breaks to Butlin’s, as well as outings closer to home.

Five Guideposts members at Butlins.
Guideposts members enjoyed an overnight trip to Butlin’s. For some, it was the first time they’d stayed away from home.

You can help us support people like Sam by volunteering to lend a helping hand on outings, or donating. Regardless of how much time you have to spare, as a volunteer you can make a positive difference in someone’s life and be by their side as they discover what the world has to offer.

If volunteering isn’t your thing, donations are greatly appreciated, and every donation helps us make life brighter for people with learning disabilities. Together, we can foster a more inclusive future, free from the barriers and obstacles people with disabilities so often face.

You can donate on our Never Seen, Never Been page.

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