Supporting young people with learning disabilities to adapt to lockdown

By Harriet Fisher, Executive Director of Services

The world has changed dramatically for all of us over the past 3 weeks. Unable to visit friends or family, our freedom to leave our homes restricted and our daily routines completely disrupted.

This is challenging for everyone, but can be especially difficult for those with learning disabilities, who can feel highly anxious when things change quickly and the normal pattern of life is disrupted.

Many of our trainees and vulnerable staff members have at times become overwhelmed with the speed at which things have changed. The vast amount of information and news swamping social media, television and even conversations with friends and family is simply too much.

Managing basics like shopping for food while social distancing, seeing empty supermarket shelves and panicking or simply not knowing how to cook every meal for themselves can be a huge problem.

For trainees who are in paid work, finding themselves ‘furloughed’ or laid off is frightening and confusing. Jobs many have done for years are now gone.

To help combat some of these issues, my AFK are providing online video sessions for a wide range of support.

We have linked with a local yoga teacher who is providing online yoga sessions.

We have weekly cooking sessions called “Cooking Club”, teaching basic recipes, so everyone can cook together via video link.

cooking club banner

Our Life & Work programme manager is continuing to support trainees with preparation for employment and interview practice so the momentum is not lost during the lockdown. Some of our corporate partners are helping with this too.

International Law Firm, Clifford Chance, are running mock interviews for trainees via video which is hugely important to keep developing the skills they will need to get a job. Trainee, Charlie, had his first mock interview online with the Clifford Chance team and our programme manager reported:

“ Charlie thought it went well too, he thoroughly enjoyed the process! The feedback was positive and constructive which Charlie appreciated and I will be following up on some of the tips with Charlie some time soon too.

Many thanks once more to you and all your team for being so accommodating. The trainees benefit enormously from your involvement in their mock interview practice which helps them to get that all important paid job in the future.”

She will also be liaising with employers to ensure any employed young people whose job has been affected by the lockdown are getting the financial support they are entitled too.

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