In July 2020 The Monday Night Club set up small Circles of Support for adults with learning disabilities, autism and poor mental health. We wanted to provide a range of safe activities to keep our members connected to their community and improve their health and well-being.
People with LD and/or autism have not only been more vulnerable to the virus, but their lives have been disrupted by it to an even greater extent. They have found themselves even more isolated than before. We want to bring them together, help them to navigate the new normal and to find support and friendship again.
Funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, has helped us to set up Circles of Support. Thanks to the Government for making this possible.
After we emerged from the first lockdown we got busy organising small group activities to get people out and about in groups, as permitted. We planned activities including walking groups, outdoor fitness sessions, sport, music and art clubs.
Music with DrumLove
Walking with our friends
We also had ‘Staying In’ activities including online art and craft clubs with video tutorials, quizzes, singing, fitness and dance videos, and online skills training.
Many sessions were designed to support mental health – chat lines with trained counsellors, personal plans to manage anxiety, journaling activities and mindfulness training.
We kept in regular touch with our members during 2020 by social media and personal contact and found a great need for ‘something to do’ for people who are trying to live independently in the community or with carers.
One MNC member had no method of getting online and we provided an iPad, mobile WiFi device,1:1 telephone and video training to get him connected. “I like using it very much, every day I use it, it’s helped me a lot during the lockdown and I’ve learned a lot. I’m on top of it now.”
We had to close our club’s weekly disco in mid-March and, until the first lockdown ended in July, we kept in touch with our members and others in the LD community, with one hour of live, interactive social media sessions every single day.
- 107 hours of live broadcasting on Facebook
- 12,000 post engagements
- averaged 70 posts per month
- Gained 441 followers
- 23,500 minutes of MNC TV have been viewed
See our report about the MNC during the first lockdown here
People with learning disabilities and autism have experienced disproportionate challenges as a result of Covid-19. All their activities have been closed and their social isolation has become critical. We have been keeping in close touch with our members and they are becoming more anxious and unhappy as their lack of connections increases. We aim to relieve their loneliness by providing regular, well-supported activities.
In 2018/19, over a third of all adults aged 18-64 with learning disabilities in England were living with their families. Almost a quarter of people were in some form of supported accommodation tenancies of various forms, where social care support may be limited anyway, and particularly disrupted at the moment. Only 16% of working age adults with learning disabilities getting long-term social care were living in residential care, which seems to be the main focus of government social care strategy concerning COVID-19. (ref Dr Chris Hatton)
The Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, has funded Circles of Support.
Our Circles of Support Project will continue until March 2021 and hopefully as long as it is needed.