Former SSI worker Adam Bullock has started a new enterprise to help young adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues.
The former process operator at the secondary steel plant has established a day centre in Middlesbrough, with support from the SSI Task Force.
It has only been operating since September last year but already he has six young people attending with a range of needs.
Adam, 37, explained that his service is called ADAMHS (Adult Disability and Mental Health Services) and is based in the Customs House near the Transporter Bridge, also home to the MyPlace youth centre.
The Nunthorpe man said that the young people are taught a range of skills, including employment training, personal safety, independent living and interacting with others.
“It’s very modern,” he explained. “I worked and volunteered in other places that did a good job but the young adults were often with much older people and weren’t given activities relevant to them.
“Here we can concentrate on what’s right for them and their future. We spend 50% of the time out and about improving social interaction.
“When we’re here they could be learning employment skills by working in the MyPlace cafe, upcycling furniture, creating art projects, you name it.
“The SSI Task Force helped with the funding to hire this place which is perfect and to buy the equipment we need. They’ve been fantastic and still offer advice and support.”
He explains it can seem an informal environment at ADAMHS, for example upcycling furniture can seem fun and he even brings his dog, Penny, to the centre.
However, in fact, there is serious thought behind everything. The upcycling helps develop potential employment skills. The dog helps keep some of the young people calm. Everything has a purpose.
Adam explained the closure of SSI was a shock in 2015. His father had been a shift manager at the steelworks his whole working life and Adam, steeped in the steel industry culture, believed he would do the same.
After losing his job he decided to take a self-funded degree in social care at the Open University.
However, in the course of that studying, he became so interested in helping young adults with learning disabilities and mental health needs that he switched course and earned a qualification in health and social care.
“I have found my passion in life and it’s this,” he said. “I’ve found what I need to do, what I’m here for. I come from a very strong steel family but I wouldn’t change from this now for anything.”