NOT so long ago, money was a source of fear and frustration for Shaun Connelly. Unable to distinguish between different coins and notes, going to the shop on his own was an ordeal.

Today, Shaun’s story is very different. He now happily goes to the supermarket to buy his own lunch, confident he knows how to pay for it.

It’s an everyday part of life that most of us take for granted, but it’s made the world of difference to Shaun’s self-esteem.

And it’s all down to the individual care that the 37-year-old has enjoyed since he started attending The Robin Centre, a special place in Middlesbrough, where people with learning difficulties learn basic life skills, such as reading, writing, money-management, cooking, nutrition, road safety, making friends – and anything that helps achieve greater independence.

Part of the Newlands Group of companies, and based in the TAD Centre, in Ormesby Road, The Robin Centre’s motto is ‘Be independent, successful and creative’.

And Shaun is a prime example of the benefits of the centre focusing care on bespoke goals for each service-user. One of his three personal goals was to understand money, so that was included in his development plan, with a shop even being set up at the centre to help build his confidence.

His big smile shows how much happier he is thanks to the care of inspirational staff, led day services manager, Vicky Hubery, and senior enabler, Tracy Brown.

“I’ve made friends here and I think Vicky and Tracy are amazing people,” says Shaun. “If it wasn’t for them, and The Robin Centre, my life would be a lot, lot worse.”

The centre is named in memory of Robin Crowther, a man fondly remembered by journalists from all over the world, who converged on Darlington College as students to learn their craft.

The Newlands Group, wants to build on the success of the Middlesbrough centre and spread the goodness to other parts of the region. The aim is to work in partnership with more local authorities and colleges across Teesside to provide specialist respite care.

“The Robin Centre has proved its value as a community asset in Middlesbrough – the members love it because it’s a place where they can be themselves, and their families know they are being cared for in the right way. It’s my Dad’s legacy and we’re very proud of it,” he says.

“Now, we want to invest more in taking the concept forward, grow what we’ve started in Middlesbrough and, ultimately, establish more Robin Centres in other parts of the region, so we can support more people…like Shaun.”

To find out more about The Robin Centre and the special things they do Call: Vicky 01642 433688

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