This year, Learning Disability Week will take place from Monday 15 June to Sunday 21 June. The week is a great chance to raise awareness about the issues that are important to people with a learning disability and their families and carers.
The theme for 2020 is the importance of friendships during lockdown. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been living in lockdown. This means that many people with a learning disability are feeling isolated, as they have been unable to see their friends and families.
Friendships are important to people with a learning disability, however people with a learning disability tend to have a smaller social network. Almost 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spend less than 1 hour outside their home on a typical Saturday (Mencap, 2016). Recent research from Scope has also uncovered that 85% of young disabled adults from the 18-34 year old age group feel lonely.
Friendships can help people feel happier, included and valued, and enhance wellbeing.
“Learning Disability Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to raise awareness about what a learning disability is and some of the issues experienced around friendships at this time,” said Kevin Stevens, Chair of Winchester Go LD.
“We are using the week to let people know about the range of services that we offer to adults with learning disabilities in Winchester.
This year’s theme is friendship; in acknowledgement that people with learning disabilities can be very isolated and this is a particular problem during these uncertain times. Go LD staff have done a wonderful job of putting together creative and innovative ways to enable engagement with our members during Lockdown.
Kevin explains what impact lockdown is having on members “One of the most difficult aspects is limited contact with family and friends. For those living on their own understanding the restrictions of lockdown has also been more difficult to understand. Routine is also very important to people with a learning disability and all the usual clubs and trips out are definitely missed! Go LD are running online groups at their regular pre Lockdown times to keep this sense of routine.”
What activities are happening at Winchester Go LD?
“Making the most of this newly found technical knowledge we all have with Zoom, members, staff and volunteers get together and have a cuppa and a chat on Monday for Afternoon Tea, Tuesday for Drop in Lunch and Friday for Funky Lunch. We share news, games and new ideas; particularly around how to ease boredom during lockdown. Members have even started making quizzes like Guess the Picture Quiz for us some weeks!
“During lockdown we have been speaking to members on the phone. There are times when people just simply feel lonely, isolated and anxious about everything that’s going on and staff will always do their best to provide that much needed outlet. In addition we are also helping to support our members’ mental health by piloting a Mindfulness course and staff are offering 1:1 Walk and Talk sessions. This is a chance to talk to our more isolated members face to face and get some exercise in line with the Government guidelines. We are running a weekly low level circuits session on zoom and a mid week Tai Chi session for some chill out exercises and to help with focussing on the here and now.”
With the help of a staff member, Go LD members James and Jane, have just started a live broadcast show which will be broadcast every week on the Go LD Facebook Page. They are planning the shows with questions and who to interview each week.
“Our Facebook page is a great way for people to keep in touch and share information and ideas on how to stay busy – as well as being great fun. We have been sharing photos and stories on what members have been doing during.
Overall, the feeling is positive and members and staff are enjoying time together.”