It is probably an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us. But for many of the children, young people, and families we work with, the experience of social distancing and lockdown has added to the existing day-to-day challenges they already face. For children and young people with disabilities the impact of coronavirus on routines and accessibility of the support they rely on has meant disruption, anxiety, and stress for them and their families. It has also meant an interruption to the regular care and support we would normally provide to many of them.
However, despite this, I am pleased to say that we have continued to do what we can to make sure our disability services can still support those children, young people, and families, albeit in different and new ways. We have been doing what we can to make sure they remain connected to our services and that they know that we are there for them. Our teams are contacting families regularly to see how best they can be supported in the current circumstances, and to ask what families need from us. This has included doing the shopping and collecting prescriptions for families unable to leave the house, as well as just keeping in touch and making time for them.
Our short breaks services are still available, and we are providing support for one child or young person, or sibling groups, at any given time. Still being able to access short break services and get that support has been a lifeline for many families experiencing the incredible additional stress during this crisis.
Some of the young people with disabilities who live with us have also struggled with changes to routines and not being able to meet up with their friends and family. However, in one of our houses a group of those young people has started a weekly online quiz. And now every Tuesday six of our children’s houses get together to take part in a quiz, catch up with each other and just have fun.
It is important that we take the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the work of our services supporting children, young people, and their families living with a disability. Our services are here for children, young people and families when they need us most, and I am very proud to be able to highlight some of the great work that our teams are doing around the country to make sure they can still be there for children, young people and families during this time of crisis.
However, Learning Disability Week is about recognising the experiences and achievements of those children, young people, and families living with a learning disability. So, this year, we want to take the opportunity to share the experiences of lockdown of some of those children, young people, and families and what the current situation means for them. We also want to highlight some of the ways that children, young people, and parents with learning disabilities continue to shape and influence our work. This includes how we respond to what is happening now and how we plan for the future, as we make sure that children, young people, and families living with a disability continue to get the help and support they need and have their voices heard in all the work we do.
Aberlour Deputy Director