Channel 4 recently reported on how people with learning disabilities are coping in lockdown: “Around one and a half million people in the UK are living with learning disabilities. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, they were more likely to experience poorer health, loneliness and poverty. Now, a major study has been launched aiming to speak to over a 1,000 people and families to see how they are coping with lockdown. We went to meet one family who’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to keep safe.” ( C4 Youtube Channel)

Too many of us take some of the skills we have for granted. During Covid-19 lots of services moved entirely online and for many people with learning disabilities it has been a steep learning curve to learn new digital skills so they could stay connected with friends and loved ones and receive the emotional and practical support they need in order to maintain a healthy mental wellbeing. Thanks to the 100% Digital funding scheme Leep1 have been able to provide a free tablet lending service where we prioritised the most isolated of our members. Part of the scheme enables us to offer free training to family members and carers as well as the individual so they can access all the online support, activities and groups available.

One of our top students who has been attending our online Food Safety Course with Cafe Leep was approached by Channel 4 to speak of her experiences of lockdown. Sapphire Malcolm has been a true inspiration to many in our online community group on Facebook, so much so that she has recently been appointed a member of staff with us at Leep1 to assist in the running of our Friendship Group Social Evenings.

Sapphire has devoted a lot of her spare time to helping others like her who have been trying to cope with the emotional impacts and isolation of lockdown. Hosting live DJ sets once a week on our Facebook Group has provided our other members a safe and fun time to socialise, listen to music together and chat.

These online groups have been a crucial lifeline to many individuals and Leep1 is proud to be working alongside other support services in Leeds to act quickly and effectively in order to get more of the learning disabled community skilled up and equipped in order to benefit from online services currently on offer.

We are incredibly proud of Sapphire and all her acheivements, her resilience, determination and the support she has given to others during a time of international crisis while dealing with her own mental health battles is something we can all be truly inspired by.

Anyone from the learning disabled community is welcome at our Leep1 Facebook Group. If you would like to become a member and join our activities and events online please click the button below.

Here is the report featured on Channel 4, aired on 16/11/20

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