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Rye Challenge


As with many of our trainees, communication and confidence can be a real barrier to employment. Sam had been working with a group of trainees to set goals and noticed that a common theme coming up was that they wanted to work on their communication and confidence skills, particularly in a community setting completing everyday tasks. So, she came up with a challenge to support two groups of trainees to work on their confidence and communication skills in the local Rye community.



The groups were tasked with using the map of Rye to plot out a 15-minute walk around Rye. The map of Rye, is disability friendly, using images as well as words to depict points of interest. This allowed all trainees to get involved in the plotting of a route regardless of literacy levels. 

A seemingly simple walk can bring up anxieties and barriers, particularly for people with learning disabilities and autism. Finding their way around somewhere new as well as having to potentially communicate with the public, if needing further directions, can be overwhelming. But both groups overcame their fears and made the walk around Rye! 


Their next challenge involved going to a café and sitting down to have a drink. Being in a new environment and having to communicate with waiters to order a drink, again pushed the trainees out of their comfort zone. People with autism and learning disabilities can find themselves easily overloaded by senses. Things like the sound of a coffee machine, the dishwasher, the hand dryer in the bathroom, doors banging, people talking, background music can all become too much – and that’s just focusing on sounds! After sitting down and settling in, initially none of the trainees wanted to order their own drink.  Once the waiter arrived to take their order, one by one they pushed themselves to improve on their communication skills and ordered their own drinks!  

The following week, the groups headed back to Rye. They completed their walk again, this time without Sam. They agreed on a location to meet, knowing that Sam was always contactable, and set off, this time with no hesitation and much more confidence!

They were then given another task of going into a local shop, Simply Rye, to use their communication, teamwork and confidence, to find a gift for under £5 for Sam. The groups worked together as a team to find a gift that fit their budget and that they thought Sam would like. They communicated with the staff at the shop for assistance, and interacted at the till to complete their purchase. They were asked if they wanted the item gift wrapped which brought up the question of whether this costs extra, did they have that extra money? But their confidence in completing the challenges meant they were able to ask these questions to the shop staff. They came out with great big smiles and a feeling of pride!  


Sam says ‘the great thing about this job is that we have the flexibility to identify a challenge or barrier and creatively think outside of the box to find solutions and ways to overcome barriers in a fun way that involves the local community. My sense of pride in not only their trust in me, but their overwhelming pride in themselves is great to see.’ 

A special thank you to Simply Rye for supporting our work trainees in their challenge.