VIDEO: Macaulay College is looking for friends

Presenting members with challenges and supporting them to meet those challenges successfully is the ethos of Macaulay College.

Founded by artists and educators Roland Engebretsen and Rebecca Lindsay in 2010, the College – a Community Interest Company – is based on the family owned estate at Macaulay Farm, just outside Stornoway.

Staff and members outside the College building they constructed together. SGD

Staff and members outside the College building they constructed together. SGD

Within its unique set up, the College provides people with additional social and educational requirements a programme of activities to encourage the development of meaningful and fulfilling working and social lives.

“It’s something I wanted to do since I was a teenager,” expanded Roland. “I always felt that people with learning difficulties should be challenged a wee bit more than they are in many places.”

And at Macaulay College members are challenged – some students helped construct the College building – with activities ranging from making ceramic crockery to planting and tending vegetable patches, to enjoying outings, making music, and looking after the farm’s sheep, pigs, ducks, turkeys, hens and guinea pigs!

It is busy work but always undertaken with plenty support as staff and members work closely together as part of a team.
“We try to have people involved in every aspect of the College, it gives everyone a feeling of ownership,” continued Roland. “And whenever we need feed for the animals or materials for the farm, everyone goes together to get the job done.”

For those attending, the work is welcome as Ethan, who has attended Macaulay College since it opened four years ago, said: “I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t here. I’ve met lots of new people here, made friends and I love looking after the animals, that’s what I’m really good at.”

In an exciting new venture, the College is now ready to create a ‘Befriending Scheme’ to further ensure members a flourishing social life.

Roland explained: “Through speaking to the parents we know that funding is available to them to pay for a person to ‘befriend’ their son or daughter but that many are put off as they then become an employer and have to deal with tax and insurance.

“We’ve also heard from parents that can’t find anyone, or don’t know where to look,” he continued. “Through this public demand we’ve set up to take this on – we can vet people, help come up with activity plans, and offer support so that people can use this time as effectively as possible.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Befriending Scheme should contact Macaulay College on email or call 01851 706926 / 07515441754.

And the College is also keen to hear from anyone interested in joining the staff team, as Roland added: “We’re looking for people to come on as part time staff, even if they’re only available for a couple hours a week. If you’re interested in people and have patience and good people skills, please get in touch.”