by Lisa Wild

The last few months have been really tough and lockdown restrictions have had a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable people across the country, including many of the people supported by LD:NorthEast. Being able to meet up with support networks and take part in regular activities is crucial to maintaining good physical and mental health, and people with learning disabilities have really felt the effects of their routines being disrupted. Families have also really felt the effects of being stuck at home all the time, and in some cases have been on the verge of crisis because there has been no respite available.

Since the end of March our absolute priority has been to keep people safe, well and connected during this difficult time, and we have worked really hard to adapt our support to meet people’s needs.

One lady we support suffers from anxiety and, due to numerous health issues was advised to shield at home for 12 weeks during lockdown. She has no family to support her and was very worried about how she would manage alone without seeing her friends at LDNE.

As we weren’t able to provide the regular outreach support that she would usually receive we arranged for home cooked meals to be dropped off along with some basic essentials, and then our Tomorrows Project did weekly food shopping for her. This worked really well as having regular contact with a familiar person helped to put her mind at rest, and re-assure her that our staff and all of her friends were safe and well.

Boredom also had a real impact on her mental health so we made sure we phoned her twice a day for a chat, and bought her crossword books, knitting supplies and DVDs (with funding kindly provided by local organisations). She even bought herself a smartphone, which we supported her to use so she could join in with regular video calls and Zoom sessions with her friends.

This all really helped to lift her mood, and we were able to motivate her throughout what could have been a very lonely and depressing time. She said that in the end she had “done alright during lockdown, and doesn’t know what she would have done without us”.

Whilst we aren’t currently in a full lockdown we are still facing tougher local measures that will continue to effect where we go and who we are able to meet with for some time yet, and we know that people are feeling fearful and confused. We are adapting our Community Outreach Service so that we can support people to stay safe at home, regain their confidence and return to their community safely. We can help with everyday tasks at home, offer support with food shopping and with cooking meals. We can also support people to take part in activities where possible and keep connected with friends via technology.

We want people to feel they can still live life their way, and that instead of feeling ‘restricted’ we can all learn to live well with the restrictions.

Please click on our flyer below for more information or get in touch with Community Outreach Team on 0191 2622261.

Community Outreach Flyer