The first stage in the development of the new Upmo campus will be the move to the charity’s new headquarters in Leith in May 2019. The HQ in Leith Links will be focused on the delivery of employable skills programmes in the areas of IT, office administration and customer service.
A key site for development later this year is the Upmo Performing Arts Hub at nearby Swanfield in Leith. As well as being an ideal venue for Upmo’s Performing Arts Programme, it is intended that this project will create training and employment opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and provide facilities for local community use (bands, dance, drama and fitness groups) and flexible spaces suitable for conferences and events including live music.
Josh Barton, Upmo’s Founder and Managing Director, commented: “The key to Upmo’s model – what makes us different – is that we integrate learning with social care provision. Our aim is to develop a progressive and sustainable educational model for adults with learning disabilities in Scotland that offers our students opportunities to develop potential and play an equal, inclusive and rewarding role in their local communities.”
Ian Rankin, Scottish author said: “Having been associated with Upmo for several years, I am excited by these far-reaching plans for the future of an outstanding organisation. Fruition would prove life-changing for Upmo’s many users, and also of tangible benefit for the community of Leith.”
Other sites in Leith have been allocated for development as the campus gradually grows. Initially spaces will be developed to deliver classes and workshops, then over time the aim is to create employment opportunities such as a café and shop, and eventually encourage independence by providing accommodation for students to live on-campus through supportive partnerships.
Mr Barton said: “We want our students to be part of a community, to experience the same cultural, social and life-affirming experiences that their non-disabled peers take for granted. They will be able to go out and get lunch at a café run by students or go to a venue run by students and hear music performed by students. The Upmo campus will also increase awareness and understanding of adults with learning disabilities in the wider community as our students work in cafés, participate in and run a variety of exciting events for the public, and share their creative energies and enthusiasm for taking an active part in their community.”