You'd better SMILE!

Smile Day Centre is a provision in Kettering that offers a day service to adults with learning disabilities.

Carl Percival and Gemma Vinci opened Smile in 2015 and they strive to give their service users the most inclusive experience during their day. With opportunities to visit local parks, shops, towns, bowling, a driving range and lots of activities involving cake; the Smilers are encouraged to be nothing more than themselves.

Gemma says, ‘We call ourselves the country bumpkins of Day Care. We believe that you shouldn’t see going to the shops as a luxury or a privilege. While it is seen as ‘accessing the community’, at Smile we believe it is just being a human being’.

In a survey by Health and Well-being Countrywide Services, on behalf of Public Health Northamptonshire, these are the figures for Kettering:

Almost 16,000 people in Kettering have a disability of some description. That is a rate of 210.1 per 1000 residents aged over 18.

·89% of them have a physical disability.

·11% have a learning disability.

·54% of the people with a disability in Kettering are aged 65 and over.

·The numbers of Kettering residents with physical disabilities aged 75 and above will gradually increase over the upcoming 10 to 15 years. This is in line with other areas of the county.

·The numbers of residents with physical disabilities aged 18-54 has been forecast to remain similar across the upcoming 10 to 15 years.

·The numbers of Kettering residents with a learning disability aged 55 and over is expected to increase over the next 10 to 15 years.

·Particularly sharp increases are expected in those aged 75 and over.

·The predicted increase in the number of older people with learning disabilities is than for physical disabilities.

The need for places such as Smile cannot be denied. Not only as a place for people to be able to access but also as a place where people can simply be themselves. That is what Carl, Gemma and the Smilers fully advocate.

At the beginning of April 2022, the Government published The Health and Social Care Levy, which includes dedicated funding for the social care workforce – to train and retain talent as well as attracting new staff. A £500 million pound plan to develop the adult social care workforce.

When Smile came in to Shire Sounds, they talked about how tricky it was to obtain funding and how they rely on fundraising ideas, particularly coming out of Covid. They are currently fundraising for a minibus so the Smilers can all go out together,

Carl says, ‘It is difficult. We want to go out as much as we can and do every day. But it is a 45-minute challenge and an eight car convoy. Our winter ball got us started but we are still a way off what we need’.

Smile is fully immersed in the heart of its community. They fully encourage the people accessing their services to be a part of creating what they do, immersing them in their own community too. Everything is meaningful, everything is rewarding and everything about them just makes you Smile!

To support Smile, or donate to their minibus fund, visit or their GoFund me page

2 views0 comments