Friendships are an incredibly important part of our lives and reaching out to friends is a sure-fire way to maintain just a little bit of normal life in rapidly evolving times. For many people with learning disabilities, however, the lockdown has made keeping up with people just that little bit harder.
15 to 21 June 2020 is Learning Disabilities Week and this year the focus is on the importance of friendships during lockdown. Many people with learning disabilities already experience higher levels of loneliness and social isolation.
We have been catching up with members of the Involvement Matters Team (IMT) to discover how they have been finding new ways to stay connected to their favourite people.
The team were keen to ensure they stay in contact, exploring different video chat software before finding one that worked well for their members. They now hold a weekly online catch up for those in the group who can access it. Activities such as writing songs, virtual meetings and online workouts have been listed among members favourite things to do to help them feel connected. A flexible approach to learning and using new technologies has also meant that for those who do not like to join large video chats or are unable to access the service, other options such as one to one calls or regular text conversations have been used to keep them up to date.
Here are some other ways members of IMT have been staying in touch:
Sarah Gordy, well known for her roles in BBC’s The A Word and Call the Midwife, keeps up with IMT every week and has been sharing her experience of lockdown with them through pictures and updates. She has also featured in Made Possible, a collection of success stories by people with learning disabilities. Watch her interview about her story now.
IMT rep Daniel Randall-Nason is also an ambassador for Stay Up Late and has written a blog about the importance of digital technologies and how they have helped him stay in touch with friends.
“Being able to see friends and link up with other buddies is definitely better than just talking on the phone. You can see then and it’s just like being in the room with them! It’s fun learning to use Skype and Zoom and all those things.”
Delta7’s Mikey Reynolds has been hosting regular Facebook live shows with music and singing to help himself stay positive and feel connected. The band produced an inspirational short film about their experiences as a band with learning difficulties and the death of one of their bandmates, which has gone on to win the Community Prize at the Scottish Mental Health international arts and film festival during lockdown.
Mikey has also been teaching his nan how to use facetime so they can stay in touch better and have been calling each other regularly since.
Find out more
These are just a few of the ways that people in our local communities have been celebrating their friendships and you can hear more stories that people have shared on the Mencap website.
To learn more or get involved with the work the IMT do, contact firstname.lastname@example.org