Speak Out Newsletter – June 2020
Welcome to Speak Out’s Newsletter.
We hope you are all well.
A note from Speak Out’s Director – Sarah Pickard
‘In the past 2 months, Speak Out has had to radically change how we work. Before coronavirus, all of our work involved seeing people face to face. We ran groups, we ran drop-ins, advocates met their partners and learning disabled trainers ran training sessions. In mid March, that all stopped. We had to quickly find new ways to support people through the coronavirus pandemic in order to minimise the negative effects of social isolation, provide vital information and continue to provide ongoing advocacy.
I am immensely proud of what we have achieved. We quickly connected staff to our phone and computer system which meant that we could then set up online groups and drop ins, start a new helpline and work creatively with other support organisations.
We are now beginning to look forward and plan new ways of working. It is likely to be a long time before we are back to ‘normal’ but we have learnt a lot as an organisation about different ways of working. We can take these lessons forward into new and creative ways of supporting people with learning disabilities to have a voice, be able to stand up for themselves and get the lives that they want.’
Rohan – Life During Lockdown
Speaking to Rohan about why he wanted to tell people about Speak Out he said:
“I wanted to tell people about Speak’s Out work and what life is like to be in lockdown as it does not get heard very often in society. I really hope everyone starts to use our helpline”
Thank you Rohan!
Open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
11am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday
We have set up a helpline to support anyone with a learning disability who needs to contact us for help. We are also providing regular check in-calls for people who are isolated and/or have little support.
- Telephone helpline – 01273 421921 Monday-Friday 9-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm
- Check in calls – from Speak Out staff or a volunteer for people who are isolated and need this support.
Since 23rd March 2020, Speak Out has dealt with over 370 calls with a large proportion being outgoing welfare check calls. 93 people have used the Helpline and over 300 people have been contacted. 73 people have been receiving regular phone contact, either daily or weekly.
Before the pandemic, Speak Out would run three drop-in sessions a week, but we now run four sessions a week, including two at the weekend.
Everyone with a learning disability is welcome.
Speak Out Tuesday Drop-In 2pm – 4pm Zoom Chat
Speak Out Wednesday Drop-In 2pm – 4pm Zoom Chat
New Drop-In sessions:
Friday 6.30pm – 8pm Zoom Chat
Sunday 6.30pm – 8pm Zoom Chat
Since starting up in March, the Speak Out Information Hub and Chat Group has over 80 members connecting with Speak Out staff and each other. There are many people using our online drop-ins chat sessions via zoom, with an average of 10 people attending each one. Due to the change of circumstances, our drop-in sessions now include quizzes, film nights, drawing/art projects and the usual group chat.
People have made friends in the zoom drop-in chat room and have been providing each other with support outside of the groups. For example, one member was helped by a new friend to seek medical assistance which resulted in a hospital stay.
Jen, who runs the Tuesday drop-in had this to say:
“The Tuesday drop-in sessions have been a lot of fun. We have started setting a theme which the group chooses at the end of the drop-in for the following week. So far we have had favourite places, favourite films and favourite animals. Everyone is invited to do either a drawing, a collage, a song, a piece of writing or anything else they would like to about the theme and then bring it along the following week to show everyone. The artwork we have had has been brilliant!
We check in with everyone at the beginning of the session to see how everyone is and then talk about the artwork people have brought along. If people don’t want to do any artwork that is also fine, we’re just happy to see everyone. Then we finish the drop in with a quiz, usually on the same theme that has been set for that week.”
Some of the fantastic artwork during lockdown.
If you have a learning disability and would like to join out drop-in sessions, please click on the ‘Zoom Chat’ link about on the day and time shown and someone from Speak Out will let you in – we look forward to seeing you then.
What people have said about using our chat room and online drop-ins:
‘I want to say thank you speak out doing these zoom chat I meet new friends and like the rules too if give everyone a chance to talk.’
‘How helpful and the zoom have been and stop feeling so lonely and we all make new friends. And breaks up week for me’
‘That you make new friends and it give people something to do in the week and stop people feeling alone and they have someone to talk that may like the same stuff you do and give us stuff to do like the drawing and have movie night too’
‘Found using zoom very helpful stops me feeling alone and I have made some new friends I have enjoyed the movie night’
‘It’s been great to meet new people zoom chats have been great’
‘It nice see you all zoom chat today great picture see you all tomorrow’
The Power Group continues!
The Power Group is our group for 16-25 year olds with a learning disability. It offers them a safe space to talk about the things happening in their lives, and to get support from their peers in solving problems and talking about future goals and aspirations.
After the lockdown began all face-to-face groups had to stop, however we were determined to keep supporting our young people, so we have continued the groups over Zoom. In partnership with Amaze we helped our group members get set up (although some of them knew how to use the system better than we did!) and all of the regular attendees have been back to say hello, catch up and check in. We’ve talked about how people are coping with the lockdown restrictions, how to maintain the five ways to wellbeing in the current conditions, and most importantly have helped our young people feel less isolated as they have a space to catch up and communicate with their peers.
We’re so excited that the Power Group is continuing and are incredibly impressed at how well everyone has adapted to the change. Well done everyone!
Changes to 1 – 1 Advocacy
Update from Jeanette – Issue Advocate:
One-to-one advocacy is as busy as ever during our office shutdown. When lockdown was first imposed, Speak Out quickly responded to the crisis by implementing Zoom and Office Teams to continue communication with service users who have technological access and to participate in meetings. Our daily working practice has changed; whereby regular telephone contact has replaced face to face meetings. For some people with a learning disability, who do not have access to communications technology, issues have been placed on hold until safe face to face meetings can take place. For issues of this type we have maintained regular telephone contact to monitor individual’s well-being, ensuring that a seeming benign issue does not become a crisis. Overall I am amazed at what can be achieved with remote communication and I continue to be impressed by people with a learning disability who have embraced this new technology.
More of our Groups get together online!
The Link Group and Wednesday Group meet up!
‘Speak With Danielle’ Question Show
Danielle, one of our staff members from the Learning Disabilities Voices Network is going to be doing a ‘Speak with Danielle’ question show via Zoom to find out how people are finding lockdown, advice they would give and what people have learnt from their experience of being in lockdown. If you would like to be involved or to find out more email [email protected]
Thanks Danielle 🙂
You will soon be able to see what Danielle has found on Speak Out’s social media platforms.
From the 1 – 7 June 2020, we will be celebrating Volunteers’ Week!
It’s a week where we thank our wonderful volunteers for all their hard work and dedication, especially in this very strange and hard time. Over the past few weeks our volunteers have contacted over 300 clients to check in with them, see if they needed any support, answered their questions, signposted them to the appropriate service and offered everyone daily and weekly chats. Without them, this would not have been possible.
Thank you to all our amazing volunteers!
These donations will help SO MUCH, so please sign up to support us today – it’s completely FREE and doesn’t take long.
Please also share to help us raise even more. Thank you!
We hope that you found this newsletter helpful and interesting, if you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 01273 421921