HALO supports adults with learning disabilities to learn about a range of topics such as fitness, health and safety and literacy. It runs on Monday and Thursday nights for Day Centre service users and on Thursday nights for individuals and their carers from outside the service.
When Alan Kerr first arrived at The Salvation Army in 2000, the then 18-year-old, from Beith, had just left Stanecastle School and his parents Aileen and David were looking for somewhere that would help them support their son through the challenges he was facing as a young adult.
Alan began attending The Salvation Army’s Kilbirnie Centre and later the George Steven Centre when it opened in 2003.
Last year he achieved two ASDAN awards for the development of his personal and social skills.
His mum Aileen said: “The George Steven Centre has been like an extended family to Alan. It has supported him to achieve his goals in life and feel included and respected in his community. Every member of staff is caring and understanding of Alan as an individual, which is so important.
"With the support of his key worker, Alan enjoys a varied personal programme that helps him realise his potential, improve his skills and boost his confidence. He’s had the chance to be involved in a range of activities, from gardening and keep fit to 10-pin bowling and music classes.”
Alan’s dad David added: "The George Steven Centre has helped Alan develop in every way, socially, mentally and physically. The service is completely reliable and we have full trust in the staff to give Alan the best care and attention. That makes our lives so much easier.
“As Alan's parents and carers, we’re actively encouraged to have a say on the most appropriate programme for him. We attend reviews twice a year to discuss his programme and progress. In addition, we attend inclusion groups, which give us the chance to meet other parents and carers, and get to know them. It's a real support network.
"It's also important to have this service in the Garnock Valley area. It means Alan and other service users don't have to travel too far afield. One of the important aspects is the transport links. The bus services to the George Steven Centre are good from the likes of Beith and Dalry. It's a good central location in the middle of the town and the local people support it. It integrates very well with Kilbirnie and the surrounding areas.
“We are indebted to the Salvation Army and North Ayrshire Council for providing this excellent service within our community.”
As well as attending the day service, Alan also attends HALO Initiative two nights a week.
David said: “Alan thoroughly enjoys the HALO initiative. There’s a lot of teaching that goes on within the programme. They cover a variety of topics including healthy eating, home safety, and looking after your money.”
Aileen added: “Alan has picked a lot of things up. One example relates to the healthy initiative programme that was recently undertaken. Following this Alan realised that chips in excess were unhealthy. Since then he has seldom eaten more than one or two at a time. For example recently he said he doesn’t want to eat chips. It’s amazing how he has really got into the healthy eating, although unfortunately he still has a bit of a sweet tooth.”