14-20 June is Learning Disability week and Mencap are celebrating the art and creativity that has helped many people with a learning disability stay connected and positive through the challenges of last year.
We already know from our NHSx Stay Connected project how important creative expression has been for people as they faced increased isolation through having to stay at home for so long. So we were excited to hear that the Digital Lifeline project has distributed over 5,500 devices to adults with learning disabilities, along with the data and digital skills support to use these devices safely and with confidence.
Digital Lifeline is an emergency response project funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and delivered by Good Things Foundation in partnership with AbilityNet and Digital Unite. The project is supported by Learning Disability England, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, self-advocates and other disability and digital inclusion organisations.
Almost three quarters of people with a learning disability said their wellbeing was affected by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and those without digital skills faced a huge additional barrier to accessing essential services and staying connected with loved ones.
We are already working in partnership with Digital Unite on their Zoom training resource and are, therefore, well-placed to help evaluate the success of the Digital Lifeline project by talking to people with learning disabilities about their experience with their new internet-ready tablets. Ajay Choksi, Rix team member and Wiki Master put it like this:
“We’re going to work on the Digital Lifeline evaluation…it feels good!”
As part of this work, Ajay has showcased his Multi Me to show others how helpful it has been to connect people up on the platform. Ajay continues to develop his advocacy leadership skills through projects like these and is recording this journey of development in his new Advocacy Leadership Wiki.
The Digital Lifeline project has shown us all how important it is for us all to work together to find solutions to the social isolation of vulnerable groups, especially during the pandemic and the support and partnership of the wider learning disability sector has been essential to the project’s swift roll-out and success.
You can find out more about Learning Disability week and get involved here