Ten thoughts for achieving efficiencies in adult social care

PossAbilities today launched its Thinkpiece Ten thoughts for achieving efficiencies in adult social care.

Rachel Law, CEO of PossAbilities said “Commissioners are facing the perfect storm. As a provider we are not prepared to simply hold up our hands and complain about our lot in life. We want to be part of the solution. That’s why we have launched this Thinkpiece. We want to have a positive dialogue with commissioners and look at how we can innovate together”.

The Thinkpiece was preceded by an opinion piece from Rachel in the management journal The MJ, entitled Innovation in social care? It’s good to talk.

We are interested in talking to local authorities about the ideas presented in our Thinkpiece; about innovation; and about ‘impossible ideas’.

It’s good to talk. Why not start by downloading the Thinkpiece here?

Feel free to get in touch, who knows what may come out of an informal chat? Contact Rachel at rachel.law@possabilities.org.uk

New report shows that we add £4.3 million of social value

Possabilities had launched it’s first ever social value report. There’s no business like good business details our the social value that we added over and above what we do in our day job. For the year 2022-23 this totalled £4.3 million. In other words for every £10 we spend, we add another £2 in social value to our local communities.

You can download the full report and read about some of the fabulous initiatives we have been involved in by downloading our newspaper version The Good Business Times by clicking on the download tabs below.

A place that makes your heart sing

We’ve launched our new Engagement and Service Development Strategy. It’s a lovely piece of work which will guide our actions over the next three years. It was co-produced with the people we support in a series of events facilitated by our friends at Mutual Ventures. Called A place to make your heart sing, which is how one participant described his life at with PossAbilities. That’s what we want everyone to feel – that Possabilities is a place that makes your heart sing.

We are the champions! Digital major dude takes innovation title

A group of staff and a volunteer attended the GM Health & Social Care Awards in Manchester, where we were shortlisted in three categories.

Ryan Bott, our digital major dude, accepted the award for Innovation Champion, which is well deserved and a fantastic recognition for someone who has taken the quality of our social media to another level. Well done Ryan.

We are the Champions! Digital major dude is tops for innovation

A group of staff and a volunteer attended the GM Health & Social Care Awards in Manchester, where we were shortlisted in three categories.

Ryan Bott, our digital major dude, accepted the award for Innovation Champion, which is well deserved and a fantastic recognition for someone who has taken the quality of our social media to another level. Well done Ryan.

GM Mayor in dramatic U-turn as he kicks off Cycle & Stride project

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, took part in the official opening of our Cycle and Stride project. Funded by Transport for Greater Manchester with monies from the London Marathon Trust, the project has enabled us to buy three adaptive bikes, which were unveiled by the Mayor.

After admitting to a penchant for lychees, the Hacienda and yellow buses, the Mayor took the helm of a large side-by-side tandem, expecting just to do a photo-shoot with one of the people that we support. But this is PossAbilities, and an orderly queue of people formed each expecting to have a ride with the Mayor. He sportingly obliged…again…and again…and again. The bike was quite difficult to handle and asked if he was veering to the left, he replied that he was good at U-turns – something few politicians admit to.

Fair Employment Charter

Here at PossAbilities our mission is to create a great place to work, ensuring that everyone loves their job and can do their best work.

We are delighted to announce that we have become a member of the Liverpool City Region Fair Employment Charter; the Charter is all about making the region the fairest, most equitable place in the country to work and run a business. 

As part of our accreditation PossAbilities have committed to achieving the four pillars of the Charter: 

  • Healthy – We commit to safe workplaces supporting a health workforce
  • Fair – We commit to fair pay and fair hours.
  • Inclusive – We commit to Inclusive workplaces that support staff to grow and develop
  • Just – We commit to a voice for staff to help deliver justice in the workplace with opportunities for young people.

We are really looking forward to attending the first member event in March on the important topic of Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace. 

FAIR EMPLOYMENT | Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk)

On the Buses World Premiere

The Tipi Theatre in the Cherwell Wellbeing Garden was the venue for the launch of a new short film by PossAbilities. On the Buses was developed as a fun, insightful and informative way to help people with learning disabilities to feel less anxious when travelling on public transport and to give tips on what to do if they are abused or feel scared.

The cast included three people with learning disabilities, Philip Atherton, Sandra Berry and Mark Broadbent along with a staff member Nicola Loftus. It was written by Malcolm McClean and produced by Ryan Bott.

Rachel Law, PossAbilities CEO said “We are all about supporting people with disabilities to live the life they choose. That includes being able to travel freely and safely on public transport, which opens up so many things that we all take for granted. I’m so happy that we have co-produced this brilliant film with some of the people that we support and really hope that it gives more people the confidence to travel and to know what to do if they are abused”.

The project was supported by Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership and you can watch the film by clicking here

PossAbilities rides to the rescue

Heywood social enterprise, PossAbilities is celebrating after helping to save a riding centre for vulnerable people from closing.

The Margaret Haes riding centre in Holcombe Brook, near Bury, was threatened with closure after their landlord gave them six-months to raise £300,000 to buy their site, or see it sold on the open market.

A crowdfunding appeal raised only £30,000 and that’s when Rachel Law, CEO of Heywood based PossAbilities CIC stepped in. She said “I saw the appeal on the regional TV news. I’m an animal lover and our social enterprise, PossAbilities, is all about supporting vulnerable people. I had two good reasons to see to it that the riding centre survived. It was an idea that I couldn’t get out of my head, so we set about doing everything we could to save them”.

After receiving a £150,000 donation from a local philanthropist, a bid supported by PossAbilities has just been approved by the Government Department for Levelling Up, through the Community Ownership Fund. This additional £150,000 means that the riding centre can buy its site and continue its fifty year track record as a charity.

Rachel added “We threw ourselves into this, starting with negotiating with the landowner and then moving on to preparing funding bids alongside the charity. This is a magnificent success and is just the start. We’ve built a great relationship with the riding centre and we expect to help them to go from strength to strength”.

Trustee of the charity, Debra Batchelor said “Rachel and the team at PossAbilities brought new energy and life to our campaign. The Centre was under threat of closure after 50 years as its stables and land were placed on the market for sale. Both organisations support vulnerable people to live life to the full. We came together and succeeded in achieving what was seemingly impossible. We were so grateful. They have been by our side helping us through the most challenging of times bringing a wealth of business know-how and understanding, as one would expect from this highly successful social enterprise”.

A Letter to the Prime Minister

PossAbilities CEO has written an open letter to incoming Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, appealing for a more fair and equitable approach to recognising the value of social care.

Rachel said “Our 600 staff are some of the people everybody clapped for not so long ago. The clapping has faded and we find ourselves back in reality. A reality that is grossly unfair and an insult to those carers that politicians say they really care about. We want to pay our staff more, but our hands are tied by what local authorities will pay us. I think that the time has come for a Social Care Living Wage. It’s not an easy fix, but we need to do everything we can to get social care staff properly recognised for the brilliant work that they do”

The full content of Rachel’s letter can be viewed here.

New microsite launched for our Historic England Project

Our project Peel Street Mill and Its People, funded by Historic England, kicked off in earnest with the launch of our fantastic microsite www.peelmill.uk 

Over the next six-months, local people, including service users will be part of a detective story to uncover the lives and loves of the people who worked at the mill formerly on our Cherwell site. We will bring these stories to life using the written word; song; poetry; art; model making and culminate in a community walking trail telling the story.

Rachel Law. CEO of PossAbilities said “We want as many people as possible, from all walks of life to join us on this intriguing detective story to find out about the what went on here. We want it to be a joyous thing to do and to uncover yet more pride in the place where we live and work”.

Anyone can join in. Just go to www.peelmill.uk for details.

Historic England back our Peel St Mill project

We are honoured that Historic England has chosen our project to be part of their Everyday Heritage programme. More than 500 applications were received and the Historic England panel selected only 50 so just to make the cut is a big deal.

Some years ago we created a magnificent garden and farm in an unloved area of land at the back of our Head Office in Cherwell Avenue in Heywood. Somebody mentioned that it was once a pond that fed an old mill. We thought nothing more about it until we began building 17 apartments on the adjoining site, and found that there were cellars buried below ground which had belonged to terraced houses for mill workers.

We found that our HQ had once been the site of Peel Street Mill, which with 107,000 spindles made it one of the biggest of Heywood’s 50 mills.

Having been granted £10,000 by Historic England, we will spend the next year engaging with local people to try to find out the stories of the mill and the lives and loves of the people that worked there. We will be doing this in so many ways – writing; poetry; art; music; animation; podcasts and model making. This will culminate in a historic trail around the site telling some of the stories.

We want people from the local community to get involved. Here is a story that has been buried and built over. If you want to help us to bring it to life, do get in touch malcolm.mcclean@possabilities.org.uk 07802 326652.

It’s Tipi time thanks to Viridor

Viridor Credits has awarded PossAbilities a grant of £36,770 to prepare the site and build a midi-hat tipi in our Cherwell Wellbeing Garden and Farm. The garden has become so popular, particularly when we have large community events, that we are in need of more space.

The tip will hold up to thirty people and will be a very flexible space that will be valuable to our gardening team, local schools and community groups and events.

Work begins in October, so this years Santas Grotto will be based…you guessed it in Santa’s very own tipi.

No gap for third year

Once again we have been able to report a zero gender pay gap for the third consecutive year.

In 2020/21, we had 501 employees. Some 73% were female and 27% male. Across the whole payroll, the average pay for women was 1.6% more than that for men. The median figure, which is the one used for gender pay gap calculations, was identical. This gives us yet another zero gender pay gap.

PossAbilities is more than just a great place to work, it’s a fair place to work.

PossAbilities to feature in BBC1 documentary ‘Our Family and Autism’ with Paddy & Christine McGuinness

Social care provider PossAbilities features in a new BBC1 documentary. In it, celebrity couple Paddy & Christine McGuiness who have three autistic children, attempt to gain a deeper understanding of autism and think about what the future may hold for their family.

The film features former Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes who has a 16 year-old non-verbal autistic son; and autism expert, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University.

The couple paid a visit to PossAbilities Cherwell Wellbeing Hub, and newly completed Cherwell Green apartments to meet some young people with autism who are making a success of their lives.

PossAbilities CEO Rachel Law said “It was a real boost for everyone here to meet Paddy and Christine. They had the opportunity to meet a young  lady with autism that we have supported who has set up her own dog walking business, as well as a young man taking his first steps into adulthood as he moves into our new apartment development. They were also really pleased to meet Fudge, our Shetland Pony (see photo) who got more than 20,000 likes on Instagram”.

Our Family and Autism airs on BBC1, 1st December at 9pm.

Our latest gender pay gap update

Yet again our latest snapshot of the gender pay gap calculation shows that PossAbilities is a really equal place to work – whatever your gender.

Using the government methodology we calculated a small gap in pay in favour of men of 1.6%. This compares to a national average in favour of men of 15.5%.

Rachel Law, Chief Executive said “We are really pleased that once again we are recognised as having what amounts to virtually no gender pay gap. As the calculation is a snapshot on one particular day, a couple of small staff changes can effect the result when dealing with the low level of gap that we have. Anything below 1% is regarded by government as negligible, whilst our 1.6% gap is regarded as ‘extremely low, not requiring any action'”. She added “What this shows is that this is a really fair place to work. It’s a meritocracy, where people are recruited and promoted on merit alone, and that’s something we are really proud of”.

WOW! Card

It’s not unusual for PossAbilities people to go ‘above and beyond’ – that’s the kind of people we are, and we like to show our appreciation.

Every so often people, either as individuals or teams, do things that just make us say “WOW!”.

We celebrate these moments. There’s no formal process or anything like that, you just know when you hear something extraordinary. That’s when our Chief Executive turns up at you place of work with a hand written WOW! card and a bottle of fizz.

Not a bad way to start a Monday Morning!

WOW! Card

Work With Us

We Got Soul…Northern Soul

Yes. PossAbilities is heading to the spiritual home of Northern Soul. We are delighted to have been awarded a seven year, £8.5 million contract by Wigan Council to provide supported living services in parts of the borough.

This expands PossAbilities footprint across the North West and West Yorkshire, meaning that we now have a presence in Rochdale, Widens, Runcorn, Oldham, Stockport,Trafford, Calderdale and now Wigan.

Chief Executive of PossAbilities Rachel Law said “We are doubly delighted to be moving into Wigan. It’s great to win a prestigious contract like this. The added bonus is that we will be working closely with one of the most highly regarded councils in the country. We started to talk to Wigan some years ago and immediately felt that we were talking to people who shared our values and understood our ethos of doing things differently”.

It’s always been our style to be more than simply passive providers of support. We are going to build on the assets of the people we support and their local communities. We’ve got some exciting ideas, and we know that Wigan will be a place that is receptive to new thinking.

Watch this space.

Animals going viral

Our beautiful animation Animals – Because hating is a crime, was launched on 2nd February at the start of Hate Crime Awareness week.

It’s the story of a young man with learning disabilities, Max, who gets a job at a pet shop and finds some unsavoury friends, which has started to go viral on the internet.

Acclaimed Indie musician Badly Drawn Boy retweeted, describing it as “A beautiful piece of work”.

It was written by Malcom McClean; voiced by Julie Edwards, whose TV career includes Doctors and Emmerdale; illustrated by Private Eye cartoonist Tony Husband; and animated by Ryan Bott.

You can watch Animals by clicking here


Virtually Amazing! Take a virtual tour around Cherwell Green Apartments

Now you can take a look inside the Cherwell Green Apartments and see for  yourself what magnificent homes these will be for 17 people with learning disabilities.

When you take the grand tour you will see a drop down menu on your top left. You can click on any room and have  a look inside. Along the bottom of your screen you will see some buttons. You should click on automatic tour.

When you are ready click here  Take me on a tour


Cherwell Green taking shape

As the autumn approaches, we can now really see the Cherwell Green development begin to take shape. Any moment now the roof will be put on this £1.8 million build, which will create 17 amazing apartments for people with learning disabilities.

Very soon you will be able to look inside when we post our virtual reality model, and you will see what a great place this will be to live. Above, you can see what it will look like when finished, complete with  our ‘Yellow Brick Road’ and ever changing mural.

Community Lottery Funds Lockdown Liberation

A £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund will enable us to develop our latest digital offering Lockdown Liberation.

The lockdown restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak hit people with learning disabilities hard. They were unable to access traditional day services and were feeling the effects of isolation more than most. We began quickly developing some online activities through a channel which we call The Curiosity Box.

It will take some time for day services to return to normal and some people may not want to return or may want a blended offer of physical and online interaction.

In response to this, the grant will enable us to develop what we think will be the worlds first dedicated learning and fun portal for people with learning disabilities. It will be built on a Learning Management System platform and will enable learners to develop skills and gain certification as well as formal qualifications from anywhere in the world.

Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020

In  accordance with government guidance we have published our risk assessments which will enable staff to remain safe when returning to work in our main office premises. These  can  be viewed here: –

COVID-19 Update

The situation regarding the COVID-19 virus, continues to change rapidly. We have in place full business continuity and contingency plans, which we will continue to review and update on a daily basis in line with the most recent Government guidance.

Our day services are temporarily closed as is our drop in facility The Social Lounge. All supported living properties are in lock down in accordance with the guidance and will not be able to receive visitors until further notice.

Though these are difficult times, we are confident that the plans we have in place are the best possible plans to try to ensure that we keep service users, families and staff as safe as we possibly can.

Anyone with any concerns or queries about our response to the pandemic should contact Chief Executive Rachel Law at rachel.law@possabilities.org.uk


This is our House of Light

As part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, performance poet Tom Calderbank visited the Cherwell Wellbeing Hub and our Witley Road Day Centre.

Tom spent time with groups of service users talking about Hate Crime, and listening to their thoughts on what to do if they are a victim, before drawing together their words and creating an original poem House of Light which he performed at both locations.

Rachel Law, Chief Executive of PossAbilities said “Tom is a remarkable man who left an indelible impression on everybody that he touched during Hate Crime Week. His message was one that we wholeheartedly support ‘Love not Hate’ and it is wonderful to see how he has inspired some of the people we support to try their hand at poetry. He wrote his poem on a papyrus lantern which can be lit up to create a house of light. We can’t wait to install it when we open the Cherwell Green Apartments next year as that will be our little ‘House of Light'”.

This project was supported by a grant from the Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership.

Tom and his PossAbilities Crew can be seen on our Youtube Channel. In the meantime here are the words: –

House of Light

This is not a house of hate

Love resides in every slate

Each brick fired with compassion

Generous kindness is the fashion

If you’re chilled by hatreds ire

Come warm your bones beside our fire

We’ll close our door, keep you safe from harm

Share your troubles, keep your calm

Our windows are eyes, behold the soul

Love NOT hate, that’s our goal

Everybody must play their part

Let this house of light shine in your heart

Tommy Calderbank and the PossAbilities Crew February 2020.


PossAbilities & Pure Innovations to get Greater Manchester Working Well

In partnership with Stockport based social enterprise Pure Innovations, PossAbilities will deliver a three year contract aimed at getting more people with learning disabilities and mental health diagnoses into real paid jobs.

The three year contract, worth £1.3 million, will see the partners working across the local authority areas of Bury; Oldham; Rochdale; Stockport and Tameside.

Funded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the contract represents a step-change in the drive to support people with disabilities into work. Over the three years the target is to get 167 people with learning disabilities and 381 people with mental health diagnoses into paid work, that is jobs that offer at least 18 hours per week.

PossAbilities Chief Executive Rachel Law said “We are delighted to be working with our partners Pure Innovations and to be spreading our collective expertise across five Greater Manchester boroughs. The targets are challenging, but we are up for the challenge. People with disabilities have so much to offer in the world of work when they are properly supported and we look forward to seeing more people becoming increasingly independent and making a great contribution for their future employers”.

Driving Up Quality – The progress continues

The Driving Up Quality Code is a voluntary code which PossAbilities has signed up to. It shows our determined commitment to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities by taking active steps to improve the services that we provide and the ways in which we provide them.

The code, involves a phase of self-assessment over a range of themes which impact upon quality. You can find our latest self assessment report by clicking on this link Driving Up Quality.

It shows that even with our CQC Outstanding and Good inspection results, there are still things that we can do to improve. This report is our commitment to this which we review every year.

Billy’s big dig kicks off new apartment development

Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Billy Sheerin, broke ground on a new development of apartments in Heywood.

The Cherwell Village apartments will comprise 17 self-contained homes for people with learning disabilities, who will be supported by on-site staff.

The £1.8 million project is being funded by local social enterprise PossAbilities CIC and has been helped by a community asset transfer of the land from Rochdale Council.

Rachel Law, Chief Executive of PossAbilities said “It’s taken two years of planning to get to this stage, and it’s marvellous to have Councillor Sheerin to dig the first sod, He has been a staunch supporter of ours ever since we formed in 2014.”

Each apartment will comprise a living room, kitchen, wet room and bedroom giving people with learning disabilities the opportunity to have their own home for the first time. Rachel added “When the large institutions closed, people with learning disabilities went to live in houses that they shared with several other people. This was a great step forward for the times, but there is no reason why people with a learning disability cannot have their own home just like the rest of us. There is a real shortage of this type of accommodation and that’s why we are building Cherwell Village”.

The apartments are scheduled for completion early in 2021 when the first residents will be moving in.