TPS Connects Conference returns
After 4 years, the TPS Connects Conference returned with energy and enthusiasm.
Originally established in 2011, the TPS Connects Conference is a two-day event for people supported by TPS Learning Disability services. The conference is traditionally every two years but due to Covid-19 it has been postponed. The theme this year was ‘reconnecting’ and that’s what the conference was all about, people who hadn’t met for over 4 years coming together again! It was also the first conference for many staff and service users.
Neil Richardson, Chief Executive gave a warm welcome to all and talked about the importance of the theme ‘reconnecting’. It was important to note that everyone had a lot to learn from the Covid-19 Pandemic and it was good to share experiences with those around and what we can learn from experiences. This brought on a welcome to Craig Winter, Director of Business and Improvement to the stage. Craig opened up conversations on Turning Point’s plans for the future. Craig emphasized that Turning Point Scotland wanted to hear from everyone in attendance. It was important to engage with the people supported and hear what they want. The areas covered were:
- What does TPS do well and should do more?
- What does TPS need to get better at?
Everyone had the opportunity to respond and vote on the importance of each topic which would be taken back to HQ to discuss at a later date. Over the two days, there was several speakers and opportunities to share stories. Topics included ‘Make it happen’ which provides awards for people who are supported by TPS, with the aim of assisting people to unleash their potential, discover new activities, develop skills, build confidence and self-esteem. The Quality Assessors Programme which involves a working group of service users to contribute and give their views on how to improve out services. The working group shared that this experience and responsibility has helped with their confidence and mental health. There was also session on National Involvement Network (NIN), opportunities to join TPS Committee and building relationships.
In between sessions, a variety of workshops were available for attendees. Each person could attend four workshops over the two days. The workshops available were:
- Arts & Crafts
- Necklace and Keyring making
- Changes the pandemic has made
- Saving the planet
- Wellbeing & Relaxation: Yoga is fun!
- Dressing on a budget: Sustainable Styling
During breaks and between workshops, staff and service users could engage with the ‘talking wall’ to share their thoughts and feelings, take photos with the selfie frame and even get a hand massage.
Aileen Reid, Inclusion & Access Co-ordinator said, “The committee did a fantastic job of delivering presentations and introducing speakers in the auditorium, and any time a speaker asked for input from the audience, there was no shortage of people who wanted to have the mic to share their thoughts and opinions. That’s what the conference is all about, hearing from the people we support, taking their views away and doing something about them.
Of course, it was also great to see people enjoying themselves in the workshops. I popped into them all for a little while, I loved seeing the smiles in people’s faces as they danced, played drums, hammered a piece of silver into a piece of jewellery, drew a picture or took part in some gentle yoga. In the discussion workshops we learned a lot about what people thought about environmental issues, politics, dressing on a budget, and the good things that came out of the pandemic. Then there was the singing and dancing at the disco/karaoke in the evening, everyone had a ball. Seeing people enjoy themselves and know that their opinions are being listened to makes the hard work of organising the conference all worthwhile.”
Well done to Aileen, TPS Committee and everyone else involved in putting such a fantastic event together.