Big thank you from

Cara Cash

Cara CashCARA Cash, 28, is Operations Manager for Stepping Stones NI. Before working with the local organisation she was involved with the community sector in a capacity building/teaching role.

She started working for Stepping Stones which is based in Seymour Street Lisburn, two years ago as Employment Manager. Stepping Stones NI Ltd was established in 1996 to provide adults with learning difficulties / disabilities with the opportunity to access accredited training towards gaining employment. The organisation opened its doors in January 1998 as community business, providing a realistic working environment for adults with learning disabilities to avail of vocational training leading to employment.

I have no such thing as a typical day. I always check my diary and prioritise things that need to be done, I am always making to do lists etc for each day. I'll read and respond to my emails and then check in with the staff to make sure everything is ok. My day can involve meetings with lots of different people including our trainees, staff members, funders and our local health trust. I am responsible for a staff team of 27. I work with the staff to make sure that all six of our departments are operating well, delivering a good service and achieving results. This includes our four social enterprises which provide realistic working environments for adults with learning disabilities as well as offering vocational training which can help people enter into employment. These include: Pink Elephant Cards — Pink Elephant not only provides a unique training experience in craft and customer service; It also delivers an individualized, hand-made product that is absolutely fabulous. Our Picture Framing department offers members of the public a bespoke service with each frame being hand made to the exact requirements of the customer at competitive rates. We have two coffee shoos: one at Seymour Street which operates as a business while delivering catering NVQs to our trainees on site. Our second Coffee Shop "The Avenue" is based at 3a Wallace Avenue. We also have a Training and Employment Service.

All our training programs are available to anyone with a learning disability or learning difficulty throughout the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust area. The training is delivered with the individuals in mind and our trainees are our priority.

The Employment Service aims to assist people with learning disabilities and difficulties to find and keep a paid job. We also have a Transitions Service which was launched last year. The aim of this service is to ensure young adults leaving school, be it mainstream or special educational schools, have the opportunity and support to access appropriate services. I work closely with our Chief Officer, Paula Jennings updating her on what is going on and discussing further funding, marketing and all other organizational activities. She is my support and I can run any queries I have by her.

At the end of the day I look over my emails again and make a list of things to be done the next day then I head home to Belfast.

Ulster Star