The Ugly Duckling project is a godsend to two of my ex pupils. The boys are both autistic and too anxious to attend college - although we set up supported transition tasters. Other than the Ugly Duckling project, both boys hardly leave their homes and spend much of the time on their computer games. They do not socialise or engage in any peer interactions. As well as engaging them in practical activities at the project, Maria is actively looking for other volunteer opportunities for the boys and trying to move them forward in achieving some independence and gaining work skills. There are no other such opportunities in the local area - if the Ugly Duckling Project is not funded - these boys would become totally socially isolated in a very short period of time.
Rosemary Scott - Acting Deputy Head. Andover Education Centre.
'B' always loved coming to Ugly Duckling and he loved the people he worked with there. I only wish we had found Ugly Duckling earlier in his journey living with dementia. I know he would have benefited from coming sooner. It was lovely knowing that he was happy going to Ugly Duckling and gave me precious respite time".
Ugly Duckling was a godsend for Ernie. He loved coming as he felt that he was doing something useful, he loved the people and the environment. He enjoyed mixing with the staff and volunteers and although he needed help to do things, he felt that he had achieved something. I never had any trouble getting him to come. The people at Ugly Duckling took the time to find out what Ernie enjoyed such as classical music and tried to include this in the activities. Whilst he was there, I could have time to myself and relax in the knowledge that he was happy, safe and cared for. There is nothing else like Ugly Duckling for people with dementia.
As Deputy Headteacher at John Hanson Community school one of my responsibilities is to devise a curriculum that is suitable for all our young people. This means something that is as far away from a one size fits all approach as possible. In years 9 and 10 our students study 4 GCSE options alongside their core curriculum of English Maths and Science. However a tightly structured curriculum like this is not suitable for all students and does not prepare them well for life post-16. Therefore, as a school we have developed an alternative curriculum for a group of currently year 10 students where, alongside a smaller number of GCSE subjects, they get a selection of ‘life and employability experiences’. One of these is regular visits to Ugly Duckling. Once a fortnight the group visit the Ugly Duckling workshop where they work under the instruction of and alongside some wonderful adult volunteers to create mainly wooden products for friends and family and/or to sell in the local Andover Mind shop.
The students have and continue to gain a wide variety of practical and social skills from these sessions that will stand them in good stead for education post-16 and the world of work.