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Learning disability in lockdown: how we rose to the challenge

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Learning disability in lockdown How we rose to the challenge

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A message from Sunnybank Covid has undoubtedly caused all our lives to change and at Sunnybank we grieve for the many friends with learning disabilities we have lost over the last 12 months Yet despite social distance we now feel even closer to each other Through phone calls online activities our twice weekly radio show and ongoing advocacy services we continued to offer support to our members throughout the pandemic and ensured that no one was on their own We give our thanks to Sunnybank staff and volunteers for their unparalleled commitment and dedication We are proud of how we rose to the challenge and are delighted to share this snapshot of our year in lockdown Tom Sheriff Chair Dorothy Watson CEO

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We stayed connected We called members 708 times Office staff and volunteers continue to call members weekly to have a chat and check they are doing ok We appeared on BBC ITV News to share our experiences of learning disability during lockdown We launched our own inclusive radio show Since the launch of our Sunny Sessions radio show in March 2020 we have aired 102 shows on Surrey Hills Radio We reach 160 listeners per show on average I just find his shows so everything They re informative witty a good mix of music and a good mix of chat Member

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We gave a helping hand We made 316 emergency deliveries Our team delivered meals digital radios and tablets to our most isolated and vulnerable members Special thanks to Cook and Tech Angels for making this possible We made essential information accessible As guidelines changed we ensured information was in an accessible format We created a lockdown hub on our website for members to access important information and invited guest speakers to talk about pressing issues during the pandemic such as vaccine scams and mental health I felt petrified because I m on my own 24 7 I don t like being lonely I m a sociable person Member

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We were there in times of need Magda s story At 84 years old Magda who has complex needs found herself in hospital during the pandemic She was alone confused and extremely frightened When made aware of Magda s situation a Sunnybank Advocate spent time with Magda to understand her needs and concerns Together they completed Magda s Health Passport Her Advocate ensured medical staff knew how best to communicate with Magda and how to fully support her needs She was given a private room and her personal belongings were delivered to help her feel comfortable during her stay With Sunnybank s involvement Magda s needs were met and her voice was heard She received the care that she deserved in her time of need We dealt with 463 advocacy issues and made 212 wellbeing monitoring calls We completed 31 health passports In addition to dealing with 463 issues our Advocacy team s focus was to ensure all members had a completed Health Passport an essential document for anyone with a learning disability who is visiting a medical setting Names have been changed to protect the identity of our members

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We got creative We hosted 282 zoom groups We took our activities online and created 8 weekly Zoom groups for members including Coffee Morning Craft Club Drama Group and Pub Quiz During the Summer months we hosted outdoor cricket and coffee meet ups Sent 51 activity emails Each week members receive activity and craft ideas to keep busy Each email includes a craft video created especially for members We have delivered 54 craft boxes to support residential homes to get involved Created 12 outdoor sensory experiences We collaborated with The Sensory Roadshow and the Epsom Rotary to produce some very special outdoor sensory experiences for members living in residential care homes during the darkest Winter months

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We took time to listen Anna s story Anna is 30 years old has mild learning disabilities and lives at home with her mum She struggles to read write and use technology so life was very challenging during the first lockdown As a young woman she felt increasingly isolated and was unable to see her friends Our close relationship with Anna meant that we were able to identify her isolation We matched Anna with one of our volunteers Jan who began to call Anna weekly for a chat Throughout the pandemic Jan supported Anna to understand all of the national changes and information For both women their weekly calls have become something they both look forward to and their friendship has grown In the summer supported by Sunnybank Anna was able to meet her friends Thanks to a collaboration with technical support organisation Tech Angels Sunnybank arranged for Anna to have an accessible tablet set up for her Once the winter lockdown came Anna had her tablet and with Sunnybank support was able to access the range of Sunnybank clubs and activities she had previously missed Anna still misses seeing her friends in person but is looking forward to the summer when she will finally be able to meet Jan I have found the whole experience personally very rewarding and enjoyable I would really encourage others to consider offering some of their own time to potentially make a huge difference to the life of someone else Jan Names have been changed to protect the identity of our members

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We re looking to the future We d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us through this incredibly challenging time To everyone who has donated to our cause given their time or expertise we are eternally grateful for your support We are looking forward to the future and working with you again Stay in touch www sunnybanktrust org 01372 732374 The Old Town Hall The Parade Epsom Surrey KT18 5AG info sunnybanktrust org Follow our story SunnybankEpsom SunnybankTrust SunnybankTrust Photography courtesy of Richard Lea The Sunnybank Trust is a registered charity Charity number 1143663 Company number 7759018