2018 is a very big year for us at Symbol as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. These 20 years have gone by in a flash … They have been jam-packed full of activity, excitements and challenges, but most importantly of all, achievements. During this time, we have worked with literally hundreds of children and adults with learning disabilities and their families, striving to enable each person to grow in their independence and confidence and to get the best out of life. We have laughed, celebrated and cried along the way. We have experimented with new ideas, made break throughs and mistakes but learnt from it all. I can honestly say that as the Managing Director I have loved every moment and feel enormously privileged to be involved in supporting so many to live the lives they choose. However, none of this would have been possible without the involvement of so many wonderful people who have worked with Symbol along the way. Their myriad of skills, their tireless energy, their boundless creativity, their optimism in times of darkness and much more have made it happen. We can and should be proud! In true Symbol fashion we will of course take every chance to party throughout the year - we have always been good at that!
Going forward, I have wanted us to carefully consider the next 20 years, what they may hold and where we want to go. The world of course has moved on considerably since 1998. Fortunately, the life experiences and opportunities for most people with learning disabilities, in very many ways, are greatly improved. There is still however a long way to go and we at Symbol intend to play our part in shaping and delivering those wonderful futures. In parallel, the economic climate in which we operate has become extremely challenging and as a result there has never been a time when our particular gift for innovating is more important. Over the last 6 months or so we have taken a long hard look at what we do, how we do it, what others think of us and where we both want and need to get to over the next 5 years and beyond. We have set all this out in our new 5-year strategy ‘The Art of the Possible’ (2018 – 2023). We have chosen this title because it reflects our genuine belief that nobody with or without learning disabilities should have to live within the limited vision of others. Symbol exists to enable people to express and move towards their aspirations by identifying and using their unique skills. Often this requires some special alchemy to make it happen; something we believe that we pedal in!
We have also taken this opportunity to refresh the look and feel of Symbol, to make sure it reflects our character as a maturing organisation. As a result, we have undergone a major brand refresh and launched a new website. We think that like us the branding is vibrant and exciting, and we hope that the new website proves to be informative and engaging. We will also be making our voices heard via social media and hope that many will start to follow us and join in our adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@symbolconnect). To bring our communications together better we are introducing the name Symbolconnect for all our on-line communications over the coming months.
Finally, I wish to thank the many people who one way and another have put their faith in Symbol over the years to make a difference for somebody with a learning disability. Every day we join the adventures of the people we support and we thank them for allowing us to share that journey; it is a joy and a privilege we do not underestimate. We strive to make a difference, day out and intend to get better and better at it. As I have already said, it’s a very big year, but I know it’s going to be an even bigger future!