Speak Out Newsletter - September 2020

Welcome to Speak Out's Newsletter.

Untitled design (23)

Hello from Speak Out's staff members

A note from Speak Out's Director - Sarah Pickard


Hello. Welcome to our September newsletter.

Like the rest of the world, Speak Out has been busy learning how to provide and develop our services online. We have had a lot of success doing this but it is not without it’s challenges. Many people with learning disabilities find it difficult to access the digital world so we have secured some money to look into how we can help people get the tools and skills they need to get online. We’ll keep you up to date with this work in the next newsletter.  We have also restarted some face to face work and are planning to partly reopen our office which feels very positive and great to be able to see people with learning disabilities and colleagues again.

There are obvious questions marks about what will happen with coronavirus as autumn and winter approaches. However, rest assured that Speak Out will be there either in person or digitally supporting our learning disabled community in Brighton and Hove.

Speak Out Helpline

Open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday


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
  • 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 800 helpline calls supporting people with a wide range of issues.

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

Speak Out Virtual Zoom Drop-In Sessions and Information Hub and Chat Group 

Speak Out 3

We run four drop in sessions a week, including one 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 - this is normally a film night session

 Sunday 6.30pm – 8pm Zoom Chat

“I’d have found lockdown much harder to cope with, the news doesn’t explain things very well and we can come here and ask you to explain things.  You explain the rules really clearly so that we can understand them”

We are proud to announce that the Speak Out ‘Being Heard in Government’ (BHIG) group has been awarded the prestigious UK Parliament Award for the Best Community Campaign 2020.

The BHIG Group has been meeting regularly for the past 6 years and have campaigned both locally and nationally for the rights of people with learning disabilities. They have been involved in Government consultation groups and last year worked with the team making changes to the Mental Capacity Act.  They have attended demonstrations and spoken at public meetings.

People with learning disabilities are often left out of the democratic process and this group works very hard to change that.

Unfortunately, the awards ceremony in parliament has been postponed but we hope to celebrate this win as soon as we can get together again. Well done to The BHIG Group!

Award 2

Tuesday Drop-In Sessions with Jen

Since the early weeks of the lockdown Speak Out has been running online drop ins via Zoom. On Tuesday afternoons we have had catch ups, discussions about current affairs, played quizzes and games, but the main success has been our service users setting a weekly theme to think about and either producing a piece of art or bringing along an object to talk about. The themes have been things like ‘my favourite place’, ‘about me’, ‘my favourite film’, ‘my favourite song’, ‘my role models’. Not only has it been a good icebreaker but it has also been a good way for everyone to get to know each other better. We have even had an impromptu disco with everyone choosing their favourite dancing tunes and having a little dance along!

The group has been supportive to each other, there have been times when different people have been struggling with lockdown and not seeing their friends or family and it has been good to see everyone support each other with this.

Once we’re able to we’d like to show some of the artwork that everyone has produced, or maybe do a little video of it. Watch this space!

If you know someone you think would benefit from coming along to a drop in do get in touch or give them our details.


AP – My Favourite Place

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.

“I've met new friends, people I would never have meet usually”

Speak Out with Danielle is a mini video interview series that has been filmed and edited by Danielle Garratt from Speak Out.

Danielle said 'I have put this together to help all of us through this difficult time by looking at how different people are coping. The skills that I have learnt while doing this are how to set up meetings on Zoom and how to record, edit them and upload them to YouTube once they are done.'

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

'I have interviewed Samantha Clark from Learning Disability England, John Cronin and Mark Cronin from Johns Crazy Socks, Sarah Watson a Speak Out Trustee, a member of Speak Out and Jan Walmsley an Independent Researcher.'

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

Speak Out Groups

Wednesday Group
Thumbs Up Group
Thumbs Up Group

The Wednesday group are all keeping cheerful, enjoying their gardens, but missing friends at Grace Eyre and coming to the Speak Out office at the Brighthelm Centre.

The Thumbs Up group have had a meeting with Jane Viner, Learning Disability Health Facilitator - Specialist Community Disability Service, to chat about how people with learning disabilities have been affected across Sussex by Covid 19. We are going to team up with The Being Heard In Government Group and contact our MPs about high death rates of people with learning disabilities across the country. We will keep you posted on our results.

The need for everyone to have access to technology has never been greater!

The Link Group
The Link Group

Diana, one of The Link Group members, has not been able to attend any of The Link Group meetings since lockdown due to not having access to a device that would enable her to meet other members online. Now, thanks to a tablet loan from Digital Brighton and Hove, Diana has joined them for the first time in 3 months!

Emma, who runs The Link Group, said ‘We were all so happy to see each other! Thank You Digital Brighton and Hove!’

Speak Out’s transitions project aims to support young people with a learning disability who wish to live more independently. Recently we helped a young person move out of home for the first time. This was a challenge for them, however Speak Out were there to support them in talking to social workers and their new staff. Through moving out our service user learnt about skills they never thought they had, and they told us that “Through moving I’ve found out that I’m a lot more capable than I thought I was”.

To find out more about how Speak Out is supporting people with learning disabilities over the past 6 months, watch Dawn chat to Latest TV about our work.


We need your help (1)

Brighton Marathon Weekend has been cancelled - we need your help!


Speak Out Coronavirus Challenge Appeal

Unfortunately, the 2020 Brighton Marathon has been cancelled (twice!), meaning that the streets of Brighton will not have the pounding footfall of thousands of runners and spectators this year.

The coronavirus 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. This is why we need YOU to help raise vital funds to keep us going.


Would you like to take on a virtual challenge for Speak Out in and around your local neighbourhood - it could even be in your back garden!

With so many people either putting running shoes on for the first time or finding their love of running again, dusting down and oiling the chain of their bike or discovering new areas to walk in - we thought it would be great to have a week where people can take part in some form of physical activity whilst raising the profile and vital funds for Speak


Brighton Marathon is planning on organising a virtual event (Sunday 11th October) for all their 2020 runners and cyclists who want to take part.

Therefore we are asking YOU, our supporters, to come together from 5th - 11th October to take part in a walk, run, cycle, swim or anything active of your choice fundraising week - you can do this on your own, with your family (why not get your whole household involved!) or at a safe distance with your friends - just make sure your activity is safe, you and everyone with you are safe and that you have fun!

For inspiration, Catherine, one of our 10K runners, took part in her own personal run around the streets of London on the official day of the Brighton Marathon Weekend in April, raising just under £100 - thank you Catherine!


If you'd like to take part, decide what activity you're going to do, set up your own fundraising page for Speak Out through JustGiving, then start telling all your friends and family!

You can also take part in a 5k or 10k virtual run or walk for just £10 through our online Speak Out Challenge with RaceBest. You can sign up today and take part from Monday 5th - Sunday 11th October. Whether you are an early riser or a night owl you can complete your distance at any time of day - just make sure it's within the event dates.

Why not download the Fit4change app which will raise 5p at no cost to yourself for every mile of movement you make! Simply download the App from the Fit4Change website, select Brighton and Hove Speak Out as your chosen charity and off you go. It’s easy and it will cost you absolutely nothing.

Remember to send us photos and videos of your activity or tag us on Facebook or Twitter #SupportSpeakOut - we want to shout out about your activity!

Please spread the word and let all your friends and family know about this event. If you'd like an further information, please contact Cat

Whatever you decide to do - thank you so much for wanting to take part for Speak Out – it means a lot to us.

Take a look at some of the easy and free ways you can support Speak Out.


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