Community spirit helps those in need

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Stephen Percival, managing director at ACE. Pic by Aaliyah Rugg © JMU Journalism

A dedicated group of people in Merseyside helps hundreds of adults with learning difficulties, allowing them the chance to learn the skills of everyday life.

Stephen Percival set up the Active Community Enterprise (ACE) group around 10 years ago with his wife, when they were frustrated that there were no real work opportunities for those with specific needs.

The managing director of ACE told JMU Journalism: “It’s becoming harder and harder to find work, especially if you have a learning disability, the opportunity is getting slimmer and slimmer.

“In a perfect world we wouldn’t be needed but it’s not a comfortable place out there for a lot of people – it’s not an enjoyable experience.”

ACE allows adults with learning difficulties to earn a small wage whilst gaining skills in everyday jobs such as gardening and working in Woolton Cinema.

Stephen said: “We run clubs throughout the week but the idea is it gives them a bit of work, a sense of belonging to something, a sense of community purpose. It’s a chance to socialise and see their friends.”

YouTube: JMU Journalism

ACE has teamed up with the Clubbercise craze in order to help people gain their confidence whilst losing weight. Having recently hired out a club in Liverpool for every Tuesday, the self-funded event also allows those to gain skills working in a bar environment.

One of Merseyside’s leading Clubbercise instructors, Jo Parry, often has up to 40 people dancing who would not usually get up and interact.

The 29-year-old said: “It’s so rewarding working with people with learning disabilities, we have so much fun, we laugh, chat, smile and dance. The difference in people’s confidence is amazing.

“I love seeing them get up on the dance floor, joining in, having a great time whilst improving their fitness.

“I think ACE are amazing. They provide something else for people with learning disabilities. They and the people who attend are inspirational.”

One of the members who join in on the clubs events daily told JMU Journalism: “They really do a lot, ACE, they really cover for disabled people. I tell you now straight, I’d be lost without them.”

About Aaliyah Rugg, JMU Journalism