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History of Assist

  • 1990

    Phase Two - the organisation that is to become The Assist Trust moves to Hi-Tech House (near the flyover in Norwich) and becomes an established social enterprise, with members making a product 'portapath' to contract.

    Around 15 service users attend this sheltered workshop at this time.

    From the very beginning, the main aim of the organisation is to help people with learning difficulties to become more confident in themselves and able to be more independent as a result. All those attending since have consistently been encouraged to think for themselves and make their own choices in their lives

  • 1994

    Phase two moves to Beckham Place, industrial units near Anglia Square. Around 30 individuals are attending by this time.

  • 1996

    Phase Two is renamed ASSIST Trust (based on the acronym "Achieving Social Skills, Independence, Support, and Training") and becomes an incorporated charitable company.

  • 2000

    Assist successfully applies for Lottery Funding to develop its Heath Gardens project on Sprowston Road, establishing new buildings and transforming the whole 2.5 acre area.

  • 2002

    Transformation at Assist.

    The "sheltered workshop" model is abandoned as service users vote to access the community as equal citizens instead, to find opportunities for greater independence there.

    Everything at Assist then starts to focus more strongly on finding opportunities in the community for employment and independent living and for social and leisure pursuits as well. As a result of this renewed focus, groups and activities are developed in far more diverse and purposeful ways, to support people to access these opportunities as much as they are able.

    Service users vote for the term "members" to be used when others are referring to them. The term is used consistently at Assist from this time.

  • 2004

    Assist moves from Beckham Place to Lazar House, an historic listed building that is conveniently close to the Heath Gardens project.

    The number of members attending Assist has grown to 80 individuals by this time.

    The number of groups and activities designed to support members to manage in the real world has now grown to around 30 in an average week. Many of these suggested or inspired by the members themselves and travel training also starts to become an established part of the service provided.

    Staff members start giving up their own time in the evenings and weekends to support friendship groups who wish to go out for meals, gigs or trips to the theatre etc. This has remained a tradition at Assist ever since.

  • 2006

    Assist takes on the lease of 22-24 Colegate, which incorporates 4 self contained flats on the 1st and 2nd floors - starting the Assist Trust provision of housing opportunities for members attending.

  • 2008

    Assist opens the Upper Goat Lane project, designed to help individuals who are independent enough to access the community for themselves.

    The number of members being supported in work placements in the community grows steadily during this period, reaching around 30 by 2008.

  • 2010

    Assist moves into 20 Colegate, next door to its existing facilities at 22-24 Colegate, making the building the new headquarters for the Trust at the same time.

    By taking on this handsome new building and keeping existing facilities at Lazar House, Assist is able to accommodate the many people on the waiting list at this time - reaching current totals of between 130 to 140 individuals attending.

  • 2012

    Two houses are secured for the benefit of Assist Trust members via an arrangement with the Norfolk and Waveney Friends Association (Quakers).

    Employment opportunities reach record numbers as over half of those attending are found work placements either internally or externally (80 individuals in total).

  • 2014

    The new Assist Trust Assessment and Support Plan is launched in order to show the whole range of outcomes achieved by members at the Trust (rating confidence, self-esteem and responsibility levels alongside more obvious milestones in such areas as independent travel, money skills and employment success).

  • 2015

    Assist celebrates its 25th anniversary!

    The "Meeting Place" café at the Norman Centre (in the Mile Cross area of Norwich) is taken on by Assist and its members, in a joint agreement with Norwich City Council. The community facility is then re-opened to the users of the centre providing between 15-20 work placements for Assist members every week at the same time.

  • 2017

    Assist Trust hosts its biggest event to date at Norwich Millennium Library (The Forum) on 4th July 2017 to put our own 'twist' on celebrating independence day.

    Other providers and partner organisations joined us to celebrate the achievements that members have made.

    The event also showcased different activities typical of some of the groups at Assist. This included dancercise sessions; sports activities; food prep demonstrations; as well as hair and make-up makeovers.

  • 2017

    40 members successfully travel trained within the local community or from home to Assist.

  • 2018

    Assist Trust patron Susie Fowler-Watt opens our new state-of-the-art kitchen facilities at the Heath Gardens. These new facilities enable us to provide more inclusive opportunities for cooking sessions for members based at Lazar House.

  • 2018

    48 members successfully travel trained either within the local community or from home home to Assist.

  • 2019

    Assist Trust runs its first 'members holiday' to Potters Resort in Hopton. This was researched, chosen and arranged by the members, with staff support.

  • 2019

    68 members successfully travel trained wither within the local community or from home to Assist.

  • 2020

    30 members successfully travel trained either within the local community or from home to Assist.

  • 2020

    February 2020 - Assist Trust successfully purchases its first property on Maurice Raes Close in Norwich, and will provide further housing opportunities for Assist Trust members.

  • 2020

    Jan 2020 - Our second state-of the-art kitchen is installed at 22 Colegate; and continues to provide more inclusive opportunities to access cooking based groups.

  • 2020

    April 2020 - Assist Trust adapts the service it provides due to COVID 19. This includes running group sessions through ZOOM; delivering different activity packs for members; and using the Heath gardens for therapeutic gardening activities.

    July 2020 - Assist Trust reopens for building based services in line with government guidelines.