by Hugo Whitaker (Development Worker – Disability and Carers)…
A lot of us are getting more than a little tired of the current restrictions and wanting to get back to being in buildings and outdoor spaces with others again – in the ways we used to. Recently some of us at EVOC took a few hours as part of ‘wellbeing morning’ to meet up in person and go for a walk. I really enjoyed meeting some colleagues I hadn’t seen face to face since March last year, as well as meeting one ‘in real life’ for the first time. We spoke about how while being on line has some benefits, there is no substitute for meeting in ways people have always met – in small or larger groups, for work, learning, recreation, catching up with friends, going to a gig, film or festival. We’re looking forward to doing more of this, as well as making use of the some of new ways of communicating and meeting that we’ve learnt through the pandemic.
However, for some people, for instance unpaid carers and people with additional support needs like a learning disability or long-term condition, it is very unclear what opportunities will be available over the next few months. We’ve heard a lot of concerns raised through voluntary organisations that meet as part of the Edinburgh Carers Forum and Edinburgh Disability Forum that EVOC supports. We’re hearing that in some cases people have had no contact with anyone, apart from those who live with and care for them, since March 2020. Some carers have lost respite services, which they tell us are not coming back. Even if a service is open, we’re hearing that travel arrangements have been challenging.
Some people with additional support needs, and their carers, desperately want to be back doing what they did before too – meeting up with friends, doing voluntary work, going to college, social events, training or work. Others have got out of the habit of taking part in group activities, lost confidence in going out, or are really scared of catching Covid, so are not leaving the house at all through their own choice – particularly with plans to move to Level Zero and the high levels of infections in Edinburgh. People are also telling us that they’ve discovered new experiences during lockdown e.g. meeting on-line, meeting people locally, going for walks in places they’d never been before.
Following discussions with forum members, colleagues in the Health and Social Partnership and the Council’s Transport Department, we thought it would be a good idea to find out more and have put together two brief surveys.
Our first survey asks people with additional support needs, and those that care for them, their experience of respite breaks or the lack of them. We also want to understand how they travel to places to do the things we all like doing, in buildings and outdoor spaces across the city and beyond. There is also an easy read version of the survey here.
Our second survey asks member organisations about their experiences of supporting unpaid carers and those using day support.
I’m on carer leave for the next few weeks, but look forward to sharing the findings with you when I’m back ‘at my desk’.
Hugo Whitaker, Development Worker – Disability and Carers