The organisation, which was first registered as a charity on 14th January 1976, was set up to provide a better future beyond special school for pupils with learning difficulties in Greater Lincolnshire.
The original idea came from a group of parents and professionals including social workers Rex Richardson and the late Dave Sampson, as well as educational psychologist Don MacKenzie.
Three years after establishing the charity, the first further education college was opened in a former local government building at Toynton All Saints near Spilsby. By 1982, demand meant a service was needed at Grimsby.
Rex, Linkage’s Director of Care Services, says: “Linkage’s idea to open a further education college for disabled school leavers – regardless of the type of disability they had – was, for many, beyond their imagination. Nevertheless, with the efforts of many people and support from key individuals in education and social care, we gained enough support to open Toynton Hall in April 1979.”
Three years on, a waiting list for places led to the opening of a Grimsby campus on Weelsby Road, and later to the launch of residential care homes, Community Support, Adult Skills, Employment Services, three cafes, a training agency and a Children & Families Service. Now Linkage supports around 300 clients and has almost 100 students in further education.
As part of the celebrations, Linkage is planning a programme of activities including:
Sponsoring a business lunch for the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce at the Humber Royal Hotel, Grimsby, on Friday 22nd January;
A student reunion at the Weelsby Campus, Weelsby Road, Grimsby, on Saturday 21st May, where an alumni association is to be launched;
A performing arts musical extravaganza at the Embassy Theatre, Skegness, on Friday 17th June;
A family fun day targeting families of children aged 5-18 on Saturday 25th June, 11-3;
A garden party for everyone connected with Linkage, at Weelsby Campus, Grimsby, on Saturday 17th September, 11-3.
As many former students as possible are being contacted to invite them to the reunion where a special publication to mark the anniversary will be launched. Contact [email protected] if you are a graduate who would like to be invited.
Meanwhile, Linkage students and clients have been set a Challenge 40 task, to raise anything from 40p to £40 through sponsored activities or enterprise. Timetables will be collapsed on the afternoon of the 14th to launch the initiative.
Linkage’s newly-appointed chief executive, Valerie Waby, says: “I have joined the charity at a landmark moment when we can all celebrate the remarkable achievement of a group of parents and specialists who wanted to see a better future for disadvantaged people. The challenge now is to continue that work as the number of young people with disabilities continues to rise. I look forward to meeting many of the people who have been involved over the years.”
Notes to Editors:
Linkage is a charity based in Lincolnshire, which delivers specialist education, adult skills, care and employment support services to young people with learning disabilities. Its 40-year history has established Linkage as a major provider in delivering flexible services, which promote personal autonomy, independence and achievement. The aim is to ensure that people with learning disabilities have the same rights and opportunities for inclusion, fulfilment and feeling valued in society as everyone else.
Linkage College is rated outstanding for student outcomes by Ofsted and accommodates both residential and day students, aged primarily between 16 and 25, at our Lincolnshire campuses. Linkage Care Services offer residential care, supported accommodation and respite care facilities in more than 50 properties across the county and beyond. Our Employment Services work in partnership with more than 140 employers to support our clients into meaningful and sustainable work.
Linkage Community Trust is a registered charity no. 504913, company number 01240377. For more information, visit www.linkage.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @LinkageCT.
Further press information: Tony Barker, Communications & PR Manager, 01522 503188, 07515 851834, or email [email protected]