Speak Out Newsletter - December 2020

From Speak Out (1)

A note from Speak Out's Director - Sarah Pickard


Hello and welcome to our December Newsletter

As you can see from this newsletter, Speak Out is still busy providing positive and creative support for people with learning disabilities, whether it be in groups, drop-ins or getting support from an advocate. It was fantastic to see Speak Out's 'Being Heard in Government' group receive their award from local MPs in November for the UK Parliamentary Awards, Best Community Campaign. Congratulations to the group!

We are concerned about the recent news that many learning disabled people have experienced worse outcomes from coronavirus than the rest of the population. Here at Speak Out, alongside local and national partners, we’re working hard to raise awareness that people with learning disabilities need better support, information and healthcare in order to redress the imbalance that coronavirus has highlighted. It is this inequality that fires up Speak Out staff, volunteers and people who use our service to find ways that we can work together to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Looking forward, we have Christmas coming up which in all likelihood will be a bit different to what we are used to. However, on behalf of all staff and trustees I would like to wish you a very healthy, happy and peaceful Christmas and a slightly less eventful 2021!


Our Impact

What we have achieved in 2019 - 2020

Our Vision

Our vision is a fairer world for people with learning disabilities where they are listened to; and have the same rights, choice and control over their lives as everyone else.

Read our latest Impact Report for 2019 - 2020 – The report, available online, features detailed information about our work and celebrates the positive impact Speak Out has when supporting people with learning disabilities to help achieve that vision.

Zoom Award Ceremony2Award Ceremony – Katie

In our last newsletter we were proud to announce that Speak Out's ‘Being Heard in Government’ (BHIG) group had been awarded the prestigious UK Parliament Award for the Best Community Campaign 2020. People with learning disabilities are often left out of the democratic process and the BHIG group works very hard to change that. However, due to the current circumstances the group have not been able to meet up to be presented with the award. This all changed in November when they met up virtually and had their Award Ceremony online.

The group were joined on the virtual platform by Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas and Member of Parliament for Hove, Peter Kyle.

Congratulations and well done to the BHIG Group!

Take a look at the Award Ceremony video.


Information signInformation about Speak Out's services during Covid-19


Speak Out Helpline 

Speak Out Virtual Drop-In Sessions

Speak Out Information Hub and Chat Group

Our helpline continues 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 and Sunday 11am-3pm
  • Check in calls - from Speak Out staff or a volunteer for people who are isolated and need this support.

Since the beginning of lockdown earlier this year, there have been 1000+ calls to and from our helpline, supporting people with a wide range of issues, including understanding Coronavirus guidelines, accessing health services and social care support, dealing with day to day problems and isolation.

"Speak out has helped me stay connected, it helps when I am feeling low and cheers me up”


Digital Access For All

As we all know, our lives have changed forever and now much of what we do is online. This can be scary and difficult for people with learning disabilities, but it also brings opportunities to connect with more people. Unfortunately, many people with learning disabilities do not have the IT equipment they need nor the skills or support to be able get online.

We are working with Citizens Online through whom Speak Out will become a Digital Champion and we are also working with Learning Disability England and Seeability on their Creating Connection project.

Do you have learning disability and need support to get online? We are interested in hearing from people who would like to know more about this project.

Would you be interested in volunteering to support people to access digital communications or do you work in a residential environment supporting people with learning disabilities and would like some help to get them online?

Get in touch with Dawn [email protected] or call on 01273 421921


Speak Out with Danielle is a mini video interview series that has been filmed and edited by Danielle Garratt from Speak Out. Danielle has put this together to help all of us through this difficult time by looking at how different people are coping. A new skill that she has learnt while doing this is to be able to interview two people at once and not getting lost while doing this.

Speak Out with Danielle has been a fun way for people to say their side of being stuck inside and be able to talk to someone about how they are coping. The answers she has had to the questions have been all completely different from each other.

She has interviewed Speak Out clients Shannon Caldwell and Tina Dickinson, Rohan Lowe (Trustee and Client of Speak Out) and Shelley Brown (Trustee and Volunteer at Speak Out). Danielle has also interviewed Sue Winter, Amazing Futures Young People’s Project Worker, Saba Salman author of the book ‘Made Possible’ and Matthew Hellett, contributor of the book and lead programmer at Oska Bright. In the last month Danielle has interviewed Paul Richards director of Gig Buddies and Stay Up Late and Dr Mark Brookes MBE and Paul Pargeter from Dimensions.

All the videos can be found on the Speak Out YouTube channel.

If you would like to give your answers to Danielle’s questions please email her at [email protected]


Tuesday Drop-In

The online drop-in sessions continue to be a space for people to come along and not only see their peers and meet new people, but also talk about their concerns about the pandemic and any new guidelines as they arise.

At the Tuesday drop-in we continue to set a weekly theme so people can create artworks if they wish and share them, this always sparks discussions and gives everyone an opportunity to get to know each other better. See below for some of the artworks that our group have created.

During Mental Health Week we looked at the Mind Charity resources which gave tips of how to cope and pointers to find one thing to do each day. We started writing our own lists of tips about how to cope if you’re having a bad day or need to keep busy.  We go through them often and add to the list when new ideas come up.

Madeline Denny and her colleague Emily from the Crown Prosecution Service came to talk to us about Hate Crime and how to report it as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week. Everyone was able to talk about their own experiences and find out what they could do if they saw anything happening or if it happened to them.

AP - House
TD Dream House

Speak Out East

Speak Out East returns, but in a digital lunchtime form.

Speak Out East Lunch Club will start on:

Thursday 3rd December

12.30 to 1.30

Join Speak Out East members in their “Zoom Room” where you can bring your lunch, have a chat, meet with friends. Each week there will be different activities taking place, such as quizzes, artwork activities and more.

Join Speak Out East Lunch Club here: https://zoom.us/j/94129279947

Speak Out East Lunch Club (1)


Our one to one advocacy service and Transitions advocacy project, for young people with learning disabilities are as busy as ever. During the current lockdown we are offering advocacy by telephone and via video meetings. We are hoping that once restrictions are relaxed in early December, we can start face to face meetings as we did in the Summer. These meetings were offered to individuals at low risk from Coronavirus and were generally held in outside spaces, taking into consideration social distancing requirements.

Our Transitions advocate Chris, has continued to run workshops at Downs View Life Skills College, but this time they’re on Zoom. Chris worked with final year pupils to talk about their options after college, and helped them express their preferred choices.

Speak Out's Transitions advocate, Chris has spent some time helping one of our service users access Zoom on her mobile phone. After some false starts, and a lot of waving at each other because the sound wasn’t working, Chris managed to help her get everything working. This particular service user is very isolated at home and helping her to access Zoom has meant that she can now take part in Speak Out's online drop-ins and to make new friends, even during lockdown.

Jeanette, Nicola and Chris, from the One to One and Transitions team, would like to take this opportunity to wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas.  We look forward to receiving your referrals and seeing you in the New Year.


Thumbs Up

As part of the Thumbs Up to Good Health project, The Thumbs Up team have been working closely with GPs to develop a quality check process to ensure that all GPs offer a good service to people with learning disabilities.

The group have had to move online to complete this work and hope to have their first quality check with St Peter's GP practice in December.

In January the Thumbs Up team will join Learning Disability England's Pass It On campaign as peer educators sharing information with other people with learning disabilities about how to look after your mental health.
The Thumbs Up team have also partnered with Ace Anglia, an advocacy charity based in East Anglia.
Ace Anglia received some funding from NHS England to deliver peer educator workshops to tell people with learning disabilities about the importance of the flu vaccination and about the Annual Health checks. The workshops were originally intended to be face to face, but because of Covid-19, they will now take place via an online platform. The Thumbs Up team will be delivering the workshops to Team Domenica, Amaze and Grace Eyre over the next few weeks.


Speak Out Coronavirus Challenge Appeal

thank you!

The covid-19 crisis has created challenges for many people, but it has hit people with learning disabilities particularly hard, highlighting the inequalities they face in their everyday lives. We have continued to provide the highest quality of support throughout, adapting our services to help isolated people most at risk.

We want to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone who took part in the Coronavirus Challenge Appeal and to everyone who donated.

Thank you to Brighton and Hove Bus Company

Before the second lockdown in England, Brighton and Hove Bus Company issued Speak Out with an amazing bus pass that allowed us to travel around the city supporting people with learning disabilities.


How you can support Speak Out this Christmas

Please remember you can support Speak Out by using #easyfundraising when you do your Christmas shopping.

Over 4,300 shops and sites will donate to Brighton and Hove Speak Out for FREE. This means you can raise donations when you buy gifts, toys, jewellery, tech, experiences or anything else!

Please support us: Speak Out Easy Fundraising

You can also support Speak Out by donating to our JustGiving page and by texting SPEAKOUT£10 or £3 or £20 to 70085.


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