Learning Disability Week 2020 celebrates friendships in lockdown

15th June 2020

This year’s Learning Disability Week, taking place from 15 June to 21 June, celebrates the importance of friendships during lockdown. Because of the pandemic, we have all been living life in the ‘new normal’ of lockdown. This means that many people with a learning disability are at risk of feeling isolated, as they have been unable to see their friends and family.

We know that people with a learning disability already experience high levels of loneliness and social isolation and that this will only have been made worse by the lockdown.

We want to highlight the importance of friendships to help with tackling isolation, as well as how our incredible support workers are exploring the different ways of helping the people we support maintain friendships during this unusual time.

Love4Life goes online

Our friendship and dating project Love4Life is centred around making sure adults with learning disabilities and autism have the same opportunities to make friends, have fun and maybe even find love. Because of lockdown, our Love4Life had to cancel any face to face events, but we were determined that Love4Life members would not be left isolated and lonely.

Thanks to our creative and dedicated Love4Life team, all events have now been moved online and have been a brilliant success. Love4Life coordinator Cader said: “The very crux of what we do is keeping people socialising and reducing isolation. We had to think creatively without being there in person for our members.

“We already had the Facebook group, so we knew we could use that and do online sessions with all our members. We have held internet safety workshops, zumba classes, choir and cooking classes – all online. Our members love the classes, it’s been an outstanding success.”

Keeping in touch with family

Our support workers have been going above and beyond to make sure all families stay connected during this difficult time.

Darryl has lived at FitzRoy’s supported living service in Norfolk for 11 years. His dad Clive told us: “Since going into lockdown, the staff have been brilliant in making sure we stay in contact with Darryl as much as we want. They have a tablet and are currently setting it up so we can video call whenever we like.

“It is hard not to see Darryl, but the support workers have definitely made it easier, and of course we want everybody to stay safe. I rang this morning and spoke to Darryl. He is fine and loving not having to go out. The staff told me he is blowing lots of raspberries. Thank you so much FitzRoy for looking after him so well, you are all heroes.

Keeping love alive under lockdown 

Keeping in touch with loved ones has been one of the biggest challenges we have all had to face during lockdown, and that has been no different for Angela, who we support in Norwich. Angela has been with her boyfriend Kenny for six years and staff have been helping her get creative and keep the love alive under lockdown.

Our support workers have been helping Angela write beautiful letters to Kenny with craft materials staff have brought in for her. Deputy manager Claire said: “I think it’s so important for all the people we support to be assisted in keeping in contact with loved ones during lockdown. It’s so beneficial for your mental health and being able to hear a voice or see a face of your loved one is so uplifting.”

How can you get involved with #LDWeek2020?

There are plenty of ways you can get involved with Learning Disability Week 2020 and helping to transform the lives of the people we support. You can:

  • Spread the word on social media – You can like, comment and share our posts this week to show your support! You can also share your favourite blogs of ours and make sure you tag us @FitzRoyUK on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Become a Friend of FitzRoy – You can help us to continue to reduce loneliness and isolation for the people we support by choosing to support us with a regular donation. Find out more here.