CHARITY: Sheffield trust’s social care helps to change lives

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When Vicki Ambler joined Woodthorpe Development Trust as a volunteer, she did not expect to be changing lives.

But, six months after the Manor resident joined the registered charity, she is doing just that, as the adult social care service manager.

The trust was set up to positively change the area in and around the Woodthorpe and Richmond ward - it has since expanded to cover the Sheffield City Region, helping vulnerable and marginalised people and their communities to achieve positive outcomes.

Vicki Ambler, who has 14 years of experience in adult social care, is responsible for restructuring, developing, implementing and promoting the trust’s learning disability services.

“I know many people have said this but it really is such a rewarding job”, said Vicki, based at the trust on Ulley Road, Woodthorpe.

“I feel honoured an privileged to have had the opportunity to meet such fantastic people with such great characters and bubbly personalities.

After six months of support this young woman is now eating a normal diet

Vicki Ambler

“No two days are ever the same for me and I like that.

“I like challenges and having to think on your feet; you need to be adaptable, flexible in every sense of the wor and to be creative all the time and that’s what I enjoy.”

Services delivered by the trust include everything from school holiday activities to personalised fitness training, positive activities for young people, adult education, training and helping to connect local people to opportunities within their own communities.

The sole aim is to make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

The adult social care arm of the trust focuses on All About YOU, which helps adults with learning, physical or sensory disabilities to build skills so they can live more independently and OPTIONS, which provides one to one carers for adults who require extra support or companionship along the way.

One recent success, with 29-year-old service user Rachel Mayne, stands out for Vicki.

She said: “I have supported many individuals with learning disabilities over the past 14years and have witnessed many achieving their goals and aspirations.

“Supporting people through quite difficult challenges can sometimes be difficult and often very intensive.

“I supported a young woman with Downs Syndrome who had been unable to eat solid foods for a period of eight years.

“Rachel had received nutrition through a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube and needed full support to do this.

“After a small procedure that would enable her to swallow solid food again meant that she required support to be re-educated in how to eat, chew and swallow.

“ It was a very slow process at first, I was preparing food that was sieved and blended so that the food was easy to swallow.

“Gradually the food I prepared was only blended a little to ensure there was texture and bits of food encourage her to chew before swallowing.

“It was a difficult process; at times food would become caught in the oesophagus and this caused Rachel to be unwell, but after a period of six months of support, encouragement and determination, she is now eating a normal diet just like the rest of us.

“I had to laugh the other day when she asked if I like vindaloo and then said ‘I do, it’s nice and hot, and it makes you trump!”

The trust also runs a Talent Match programme, working with young people aged between 18-24 who may have low mental health issues, be former drug users, ex-offenders or have low attainment at school to find work opportunities that are out there.

It provides a whole round package of support from help with CV writing, support to attend interviews or toattend training.

Separately their pioneering ‘HealthWorks’ programme helps local people improve their health and well-being by reducing health inequalities, and encouraging people to engage in community development and volunteering projects around the region. Their flagship project is a community allotment based in Rivelin, which is funded by the Department of Health.

Vicki, aged 47, said: “We want to be a small, friendly service where people feel comfortable in coming to us.

“It is very much part of the heart of the community.

“I never expected to be changing lives when I started here.

“I am so pleased that I am anle to do that as part of the job.”


The trust’s community allotment project has transformed a patch of land from ‘jungle’ to a workable space.

Staff from the trust also got involved working alongside our volunteers to put in a shed and install a base for the greenhouse, level the ground and secure the site. There are plans to build raised beds for plants and vegetables, build a grassed mound for young people to listen to stories and share experiences and create a lovely space for people to enjoy and cultivate. The trust needs decent wood such as decking, pallets and paving slabs for the site.

To get involved call us at WDT on 0114 2654165 or email