Speak Out Newsletter - June 2021
Welcome to Speak Out's Summer newsletter
Updated introduction 22nd June 2021
We are all aware of the twists and turns that we have had to make to live with coronavirus over the past 15 months or so. To illustrate this, 2 weeks ago I wrote the introduction for the summer newsletter stating that number of cases in the city were low. Two weeks later and cases are again increasing but this time mainly in unvaccinated young people. At the moment, we are still planning to restart some face to face groups as well as keeping some online groups and will be keeping an eye on government and other guidance to make sure that we keep our services safe and in line with good practice.
Once again, all the staff and volunteers are very much looking forward to seeing people face to face as and when we can. If you want to know more about the progress of this work, please contact the relevant staff member at Speak Out or give us a ring.
All the best
Digital Access For All
We were lucky enough to partner with The Good Things Foundation to give away 20 tablets to people with learning disabilities.
People with learning disabilities are disproportionally excluded from a digital life and this was made even more obvious during the pandemic. This project meant people were given a tablet and a package of data and some support to get online.
Andrew loves playing chess. He has travelled the world to play in chess tournaments and during lockdown this was impossible. He said “this (getting help to get online) is the best thing to happen to me in a long time. I can’t wait to meet other chess players from around the world. This is life changing”
Speak Out's New Film
Speak Out has been funded by Learning Disability England to make a film about the experiences of people with learning disabilities during Covid-19 and the lockdowns. A group of people have been working with local film maker, Kitty Wallace to write, film and edit a short film.
The group have learned how to create a film and gave ideas and experiences about what they wanted to be in the film. As yet, there is no title but it should be completed by the end of June, so watch this space. Here are a couple of photos of the filming sessions. Jamie, Alison and Danielle did an amazing job.
We can’t wait for you all to see it.
The Tuesday drop-in sessions continue to be based on a weekly theme. The themes are set by people who take part in the drop-in.
Lockdown art project - Participants in the drop-in have been posted a sketchbook, pens and pencils so they can create their artwork, collect their thoughts and have a record of their personal journey through the last few weeks of lockdown.
An online exhibition has been created to show some of the artwork from the past year – watch here.
Here’s a snippet of Speak Out East live on 10th June. If possible, we will continue to run the Zoom meeting alongside the live meeting to enable as many Speak Out East members to take part. It’s a new challenge for us, so we’ll see how it goes!
Join Speak Out East at their digital lunchtime club.
Speak Out East Lunch Club is on every:
Transitions Group Funding
Speak Out recently received funding from The Henry Smith Charity to continue our successful transitions advocacy project.
The funding means that we can continue our drop-ins, groups and one to one advocacy with young people in transition to becoming more independent. We are also excited that we will be running some new groups in partnership with Amaze, where we talk through issues commonly faced by young people in transition. The participants will get the chance to speak to other young people who have moved on to more independent living, to share experiences and learn more about their options. We hope that these groups will mean that more young people are better prepared for their transition to independence.
The Power Group
The Power Group has now returned back to face to face meetings. Although we meet need to meet in a small group with social distancing it’s wonderful to share a room with each other. Since coming back the members spoke of their feelings about leaving lockdown and their hopes for the future. Understandably there are mixed feelings about the changes coming, and it’s been great that members can support each other to talk through what’s happening. When more things start opening we look forward to being able to signpost the members to more activities, events and sources of support in the community.
Advocacy for Parents with a Learning Disability
We all know that for some, becoming a parent can be a challenging and lonely time. This is particularly true for parents with a learning disability, especially when Children’s Services get involved. Speak Out has long believed in the power of peer-support, and we were really pleased when an opportunity came up to develop and pilot a peer-support group with Brighton Housing Trust – Fulfilling Lives for parents with learning disabilities.
During the pilot, we will offer a confidential, safe and supportive space for parents to come together. The group is targeted at mums or mums-to-be with a learning disability, who are or have recently been involved with Children’s Services. With a user-led, flexible and creative focus, the project had the following aims:
- To offer peer-support
- To share experience
- To give participants a voice
- To reduce isolation
- To help us understand future support need of parents
Participants were invited from those already working with Speak Out, BHT or RISE. Four sessions were planned and will be run by an advocate working with parents, a specialist women’s worker and a domestic violence worker. As I write, members have begun to build relationships, have made self-care boxes and cushions, and discussed topics including keeping safe, self-care, how to say no and positive self-talk.
It is hoped that learning from this pilot will inform us about the support this group of parents need and help us to secure funding for a longer term project – watch this space!
Take a look at: Joint Working: The Power of Collaboration – Fulfilling Lives South East Partnership (fulfilling-lives-se.org) Co-written by Nicola, who is Speak Out's Issue Advocate (parents).
Members of Speak Out's Link Group organise the Learning Disability Partnership Board.
Life After Lockdown
We'd like to say a very BIG thank you to all our wonderful volunteers!
A huge thank you to our much valued volunteers. This has been a tough year for many of our clients but with your support, this has made it easier for them to bear. From assisting advocacy partners to cope with isolation, providing advocacy to resolve problems, helping staff to facilitate Zoom drop-ins, working on our helpline ensuring the most vulnerable could access the help they needed when facing so many new challenges, and generally for “being there” in a time of crisis. This has been an unprecedented year and you have all played a part in keeping our advocacy partners safe, connected to their circle of support, and feeling less vulnerable and afraid. All our clients and the Speak Out team are extremely grateful for all you have done. Stay safe and well and we’re all looking forward to a brighter year ahead. - Sarah Coombes (Volunteer and Self Advocacy Coordinator)
Here are a small group of our volunteers being able to meet up for the first time in over a year.
What's it like to Volunteer at Speak Out?
Surviving Through Stories
Surviving Through Stories is a website where people with learning disabilities around the country are telling their stories about life during Covid-19.
People are sharing their experiences in lots of ways, including through film, writing and artwork. The stories make an important record, sometime moving, sometimes funny about resilience, friendships and the challenges for people with learning disabilities of living through the pandemic.
A life sized Lego model of one of the suffragettes is coming to Speak Out in August. The model, called Hope, was commissioned by the UK Parliament and is touring the UK.
We think the fight of the Suffragettes to get the vote for women is much like the struggle faced by people with learning disabilities to take part in democracy. The Being Heard in Government (BHIG) group will be putting together a display to accompany Hope’s visit and we hope to show some of the artwork produced by people at our drop-ins during lockdown. Photo Credit: Jessica Taylor
Thank you to our new funders:
- The Henry Smith Charity
- The Ian Askew Charitable Trust
- The Ann Rylands Small Donations - Sir Jules Thorn Trust
- The February Foundation
- Sussex Community Foundation
Brighton Marathon, BM10K and BM Ride 2021
Would you like to run and raise vital funds for a local charity?
Do you already have your own place and would like to support the learning disabled community? Do you know anyone looking for a running or cycling challenge?
Why not take part in the Brighton Marathon Weekend for Speak Out!
To find out more here
How you can support Speak Out for FREE!
Please remember you can support Speak Out by using #easyfundraising when you do your online 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 at: Speak Out Easy Fundraising OR scan the QR code in the picture below.
You can also support Speak Out by donating to our JustGiving page and by texting SPEAKOUT£10 or £3 or £20 to 70085.