Project helps to pave the way to independent lives in Sheffield

Recreational Imaginative Vocational Activities (RIVA) Project managers Cheryl Ridge (44) left and Denise Donston (41) inside the old library tea rooms.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Recreational Imaginative Vocational Activities (RIVA) Project managers Cheryl Ridge (44) left and Denise Donston (41) inside the old library tea rooms. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
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A new centre dedicated to helping disabled people live fuller lives is set to open its doors in Sheffield.

Adults with a range of special needs will learn how to get on in the world of work while gaining essential life skills at the Riva project in Wisewood.

Recreational Imaginative Vocational Activities (RIVA) Project managers Cheryl Ridge (44) left and Denise Donston (41) inside the old library tea rooms.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Recreational Imaginative Vocational Activities (RIVA) Project managers Cheryl Ridge (44) left and Denise Donston (41) inside the old library tea rooms. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Support workers Cheryl Ridge, Denise Donston and the rest of their team will provide basic training designed to suit a variety of jobs, while giving people the chance to apply it to real life in the on-site cafe and charity shop.

They will also take cooking lessons, practise doing the laundry, and master other domestic chores to help them towards more independence.

The project has been years in the making but Riva - ‘recreational, imaginative, vocational activities’ - is almost ready to open its doors at the site of the former Wisewood School near Laird Road.

Cheryl said: “We’ve been working on this for a long time but it’s nearly done.

“The centre has its own charity shop and cafe, which means the people who come to us can work there and get real-life experience of retail and catering.

“The hope is they can start applying for jobs and get into work with the right support.

“It’s a training facility as well.

“We’ll have people from across the city learning basic things like cooking, washing and ironing. Everything we do is to try to help people lead a more independent life.

“That’s the whole point of the Riva project.”

On top of the new facilities inside the training centre, there will also be a community garden space for growing plants, fruits and vegetables.

Local residents and schoolchildren will be invited to attend a tree-planting day on October 23.