International Day of Persons with Disabilities – An introduction to the work carried out at St Helena’s Active Participation in Enterprise

Today, Friday 3 December 2021, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) – a day used to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. This year’s theme is ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’

In recognition of the day, we introduce you to the work of St Helena’s Active Participation in Enterprise (SHAPE) – a social enterprise providing training and work opportunities, in a supportive environment, for vulnerable and disabled adults who need to develop skills to enable them to become employed.

SHAPE’s core services are crucial to St Helena Government’s Health & Social Care Portfolio in providing training and supported work opportunities for disabled and vulnerable people in a safe and supportive environment where disabilities are understood and individual needs are met as far as practicable.  The majority of the trainees are engaged through the Government Occupational Training (OT) Scheme and therefore work closely with the Children & Adults Social Care Directorate. SHAPE’s avenues are focused around recycling, local craft productions, organic farming, life skills and hospitality training.

SHAPE has created a Paper and Card Recycling Centre and established a local craft industry that uses invasive flax and aloe as well as making use of local wool. The work experience programmes offer meaningful employment and ensures social inclusion where disabled and vulnerable people can cultivate confidence and feel valued for their participation in St Helena’s economy and in society as a whole.

SHAPE’s work, whilst supporting disabled people into employment and giving them better life outcomes is also about supporting the Island’s environment agenda and is looking to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.  SHAPE is also committed to St Helena’s national goals:

  • ‘Altogether Safer’ – ensuring disabled and vulnerable adults participate in a safe work environment and who are coached and trained by staff who are highly committed and whose values and attitudes empowers, positively influences and advocates for the organisation’s belief in a fully accessible society where people can enjoy freedom of choice and equal opportunity 
  • ‘Altogether Healthier’ – SHAPE’s Training Programmes encourage a healthier lifestyle, both physically and mentally.  A Wellness Programme was compiled in conjunction with the Health Services Directorate in an effort to educate, promote and encourage healthy lifestyle changes.  SHAPE’s new future business venture of growing and selling fresh organic produce adds to this national goal.  The onsite Bamboo Cafe features healthy meals which will be supported by their organic farming and they will serve healthy refreshing drinks.  The cafe function also provides opportunity for life skills and hospitality training
  • ‘Altogether Better for Children and Young People’ – with limited facilities on-Island for children with disabilities and learning difficulties, SHAPE allows access for schoolchildren and in particular young people with disabilities transitioning from Prince Andrew School. Supported by the Education, Skills & Employment Portfolio, an Education Tutor is assigned to SHAPE three days per week to teach Maths and English skills, providing people with disabilities, whether physical, learning or mental to continue learning beyond school leaving age  
  • ‘Altogether Greener’ – SHAPE prides itself in promoting a green business model, recycling waste materials and turning invasive plants into saleable products to both local and overseas visitors 
  • ‘Altogether Wealthier’ – SHAPE leads on providing a range of opportunities for disabled persons and other disadvantaged groups to realise their full potential, hence their motto ‘Enabled, Not Disabled’.  SHAPE endeavours to advocate, showcasing their talents and hard work through social media. SHAPE wants disabled people to become employed, lead independent lives and to become financially independent.

As part of their noncore services they also offer a service to high dependent clients, enabling parents and carers respites, contributing positively to the family’s wellbeing, thus providing enrichment programmes to the clientele who would not otherwise access SHAPE. This service is supported through a private sponsorship with an international organisation.

#StHelena #SHAPE #IDPD #AltogetherSafer #AltogetherHealthier

#AltogetherBetterForChildrenAndYoungPeople #AltogetherGreener #AltogetherWealthier

3 December 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470