On Monday 4 May, we launched a new online service to support young people with learning disabilities who, along with the rest of the country are in lockdown. The project is called Safe-Space and is a platform which enables the young people we work with to connect with each other and take part in cooking, gardening, music and keep fit workshops as well as providing an opportunity for one to one and group therapy sessions.
The development of this new and vital service follows Kool Club, Breaking the Barrier and our Holiday Projects being put on hold due to the current Coronavirus social distancing measures that must be followed.
All existing community projects participants have been invited to participate in Safe-Space. The project is run by specialist support staff and session leaders 6 days a week, via the online platform. Safe Space has a number of built in communication assistant tools such as Widgits which provides pictures alongside text, to support young people using the platform to read independently.
Sarah-Jane Lowson, Community Projects Development Manager says “Our intent is to create a safe inclusive space for our young people within the new virtual world that we all find ourselves in. We look forward to working in partnership with some fantastic local workshop leaders to help us in supporting our young people stay connected, physically active, mentally well, learning new skills helping each other and their community.”
A parent said ” what a brilliant way to bring the outside world in and keep everyone connected”
Rhys one of Lifework’s young people said “It’s a great idea”
Following on from our weekly Zoom discos that have proven to be a success, we hope that Safe-Space will continue to help people to connect socially and engage in activities which they enjoy. We are pleased that we have been able to bring this project to our young people so quickly.
A parent said, “At first my son Louis was resistant to being online with his friends from Kool Club and Jam Buddies. Its quite a strange new thing for him as he has never actually done it before. I think however that this is opening new channels of connection for young people with Learning Disabilities as its not easy for them to meet in person all the time. This platform offers more access to their friends and is uplifting in these times of isolation. I feel this space is challenging us to move forward with the technological progress that is inevitably becoming more a part of our lives and will give us a much needed boost into the digital age!”
In a recent survey undertaken on behalf of Devon County Council 68.75% of young people involved with Lifeworks Community Projects stated ‘being with their friends’/’avoiding loneliness’ was what they liked best about Lifework’s youth group; and for 31.25% it was the diverse range of activities. Lifeworks Safe-Space sustain both for these young people; provide a little respite for families who usually make use of Lifeworks Short breaks offer, and develop a replicable model for other charities supporting young people with learning disabilities across the UK.
For more information on how to join Safe-Space email [email protected] or call 01803 840 744.
To log in to Safe-Space visit www.safespace.lifeworks-uk.org