Usually, the Activity and Resource Centre (ARC) in Ealing offers a wide range of fun activities, skill sessions and events for people with learning disabilities living at home with their families.
While the ARC remained closed for most of last year due to COVID-19, Deputy Manager, Wendy Bayoumi, dispensed hours of advice and support to families over the phone. She says:
“At the start, these conversations were quite short and, on the whole, carers and families were coping well and happy to isolate for everyone’s health. By the winter lockdown, spirits were flagging and the social isolation was taking its toll and I found myself spending longer and longer talking to each family every week. As we have welcomed people back to the ARC, it has been brilliant and at times emotional meeting again people and their families and carers in person and building on these deep relationships forged in lockdown.”
Activities resumed at the ARC in April 2021
The ARC reopened in mid-April 2021, when they went back to providing a variety of fun and creative activities. The centre now supports around 30 people with learning disabilities, with various and diverse support needs, who live with their families. The sessions focus on communication skills, self-expression, body awareness, wellbeing and exploring the senses. The ARC also hosts virtual music sessions via Zoom and these are inspired and led by the people we support.
Time for families
For families, not just at the ARC but across the organisation, we know the challenges of the last 18 months continue. Our Family Support Manager, Sophie Ade says:
“I’m here to help our support teams build positive relationships with families and also to share our organisational expertise directly with families by offering training, providing advocacy in meetings and offering advice about systems and legislation. Navigating the social care system can be complicated and intimidating and the Certitude Family Support team is here to help all our families and carers.”
Support to any family involved with Certitude includes support at meetings, planning for the future, giving guidance on benefits, grants and personal budgets and simply being there to listen.
‘Time for Families’ forums, where families and carers can come together to provide feedback and hold discussions around what we can do to ensure we are always providing the right support have recently started. They are held every month from 6.30-8pm.