Gateway into the Community


Gateway into the Community (GC) exists to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities in West Northumberland. It works with both young and older people to help increase participation and integration in the community through social, educational and leisure groups. This improves confidence and independence, and is part of GC’s mission to change the wider community’s perceptions of people with learning disabilities.  

Why Pilotlight?

Passionate about the impact of its work, and feeling stable in the present, GC came to Pilotlight recognising it was time to focus on planning for the future.  Fiona MacDonald, CEO, had many ideas she wanted to implement but felt she needed external scrutiny and expertise to ensure they fitted with the wider strategy for the organisation. GC wanted to ensure it was doing everything it could to provide the best possible opportunities for its service users. 

What we did

Our early meetings focused on understanding the charity and its various challenges and opportunities. The team realised that in order to create an effective longer-term plan, the first step was to gain further clarity on GC’s vision and purpose. The Pilotlight team facilitated an away day with GC to look at these bigger questions, help align the organisation with strategy, and gain input from members on future programming. Once GC gained clarity around its vision and aims, the team supported Fiona with the beginning of a business plan. 


The engagement successfully provided Fiona with the space to sit down, clearly articulate GC’s current strategy, and take the time to focus on ideas and ways to develop it. The result was a clarified strategy and the beginning of a strong business plan.  Six months following the end of Pilotlight’s engagement, GC has acquired a new and larger premises to grow its work and fulfil its strategy, a move Fiona attributes directly to her involvement with Pilotlight:

"Pilotlight gave me the confidence to go for things – to stretch that little bit further, and to think more creatively.  The business plan has helped me make decisions I previously may not have.  The effects of the engagement have come later and things feel so much more sustainable now.  I am so pleased we engaged.  It has really made a difference." 

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