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People First Dorset was set up in 2004, as a user led charity, supporting people with learning disabilities to develop their self-advocacy skills. We achieve the above by providing friendship, fun, support groups, forums, easy read and quality checking services. Our 3 main projects are:

Friendship club – people come together to make and meet friends in everyday settings such as cafes, pubs, bowling alleys.

Speaking Up – people come together to develop their speaking up skills and talk about the issues that are important to them and effect their everyday lives.

Quality Checkers - our team of people with learning disabilities visit providers (day services and supported living) to find out what is good and what can be improved.

Please get in touch for more information or to find out how to join in with our projects.

Memory Assessment

If someone requires a memory assessment, and they have a confirmed diagnosis of a Learning Disability, this would be processed by the Learning Disability Team. Contact us for more information.


Thrive is a national charity that helps people with a disability to start or continue gardening.

They have practical information on –

  • making garden jobs easier
  • advice on taking care when in the garden
  • useful hints and tips
  • details of the equipment and tools which are particularly helpful

Visit the Thrive website

Alternatively, you can contact them via telephone on 01189 885 688.

Employment, training and support for adults with a learning disability

Dorset Council has taken the decision to close ‘Vocational Services’, the supported employment service for people who have a learning disability, with effect from 30 September. Previously known as ‘Stepping Stones’ the scheme has been around for many years. The service has become smaller over time, and we just haven’t been able to help enough people to get a job. When we looked at how other councils are doing, and we thought about how we wanted to help more people to get a job, it was clear that we needed to do something differently.

We know that having a job is important to many people who have a learning disability, and to lots of other people who have care and support needs. We want to help as many people as possible who are known to adult social care to get, and keep a job. That is why we will soon be producing something new to replace Vocational Services. We will be doing this with people with care and support needs and their carers.

Over the next days and weeks we will be talking to people who are using the scheme at the moment to see if they need support with their job in the meantime, and if so who could do this and how. We will update this page when we are able to tell you something about the new service.

The support officers who have worked in Vocational Services have always done their very best to help people who have a learning disability to get a job. Dorset Council is very grateful for their work, and wish them well in their futures.

Dorset Council wants people who use our services to have the best possible access to employment opportunities. That’s why in the following months we will work with a range of stakeholders to develop a new employment service that can create a wide range of opportunities for people who want to work.


Volunteering can be a positive way to spend your time and be involved with your local community. Some of the benefits of volunteering are:

• meeting new people and making new friends
• feeling a sense of purpose and achievement
• learning new skills
• improving confidence and self-esteem
• staying physically and mentally healthy

Volunteering cannot directly help you to get a job, but many companies recognise the value of work experience and skills learned during volunteering.

Find volunteering opportunities

You can also find opportunities for volunteering at your local volunteer centre:

Do-it has an online directory of volunteering vacancies right across the country.

We have details of some local organisations that offer volunteering opportunities in our directory.

Other help

The Citizens Advice Bureau has advice if you feel you have been discriminated against at work because of your disability.