The Josephine & Jack Project nominated for National Diversity Award

Josephine & Jack Project Credit: ITV News

By Kris Jepson

A Newcastle charity, which runs relationship and sex education workshops for people with learning disabilities, has been nominated for a National Diversity Award.

The Josephine and Jack Project provides interactive sessions, using two life-sized, anatomically accurate cloth characters to make the message more accessible.

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

The characters take centre stage during interactive, creative education sessions run by and for people with learning disabilities.

The charity has been nominated for the Community Organisation Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards.

People with learning disabilities have thoughts and feelings and emotions and the right to be able to express, articulate and have relationships if they want. It’s something that not many people ever think about. If an organisation like ours is nominated for a big national diversity award, that immediately puts a spotlight on us and we have an opportunity to explain and to talk about what we do.

Simon James, The Josephine & Jack Project
Josephine & Jack Project Credit: ITV News

The sessions involve role-playing real life scenarios and engaging with the people to help them understand what the consequences are of certain situations and where they can get help if they ever find themselves in a vulnerable position.

During a session delivered to members of the Journey Enterprises group in Wallsend, one group role-played a car scenario.

Jack and Jo helped our people a lot to manage their mood changes, to understand their feelings. We’ve done it over loads of sessions. We’ve done music. We’ve done yoga. We’ve done mindfulness. We’ve done healthy eating and I think all those sessions helped the clients.

Fatima Zahra El Jellaoui, Journey Enterprises
The Josephine & Jack Project Credit: ITV News

The cloth character, Jack, was placed in a physically awkward position, which would prevent him from driving safely. The passengers were then told to act out what their communicative response would be in that situation.

The second group acted out a nightclub scene. Cloth character, Josephine, was drunk and those taking part learned about the dangers of being in such a vulnerable position and about where they could find help.

We then assist Josephine and Jack, but what we’re actually doing is we’re assisting the delegates in the room with answers, with signposting as to where they can go for help and just in terms of coping strategies, we’ve done a lot about, you know, stress, keeping well, keeping safe, eating well, exercising, the highs and lows of life, we try to work through that with everybody.

Viv Wiggins, The Josephine & Jack Project
Josephine & Jack Project Credit: ITV News

During a mock-up date between the two cloth characters, Josephine and Jack, everyone in the room took part in the conversation.

Delegates would put forward possible questions either Josephine or Jack would ask. This taught them about the importance of relationships and communication.

Innovative sessions like this, according to those who run the project, provides the delegates with valuable life skills, demonstrated in the safe environment of Josephine and Jack's experience, and the participants leave feeling happy and confident.

I’ve worked for many years with people with learning disabilities around subjects such as relationships, sexual health and sexuality and it just makes things so much easier working with Josephine and Jack. The point is put across so much more quickly and that in turn allows us to explore things that you could never possibly explore. >

Tom Roy, The Josephine & Jack Project

The full list of nominated finalists for the Community Organisation Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards includes:

  • Dimobi Children's Disability Trust

  • The Josephine and Jack Project

  • Spadework

  • Personal Independence Payment Professionals

  • SignHealth

  • Centre for ADHD & Autism Support

  • Autism Wessex

  • ADDvanced Solutions CIC