Covid Stories from the Learning Disability Community
Brighton and Hove Speak Out
The Project ‘Covid Stories from the Learning Disability Community’ has collected the stories of 25 people with learning disabilities during the Covid-19 pandemic and the recovery phase. We are now moving on from the pandemic, but we think it’s important to share what life has been like for many people with learning disabilities. This project took its inspiration from the Surviving through Stories website.
The project began in September 2021 with funding from the National Lottery ‘Awards for All’. The projects aim was to record the experiences of local people with learning disabilities during the pandemic. They particularly wanted to reach people who had lost touch with Speak Out over the last few years, or who were socially and/or digitally isolated.
The pandemic created challenges for many people, but it hit people with learning disabilities particularly hard, highlighting the inequalities they face in their everyday lives. National research has reported huge health inequalities, reduced social care support, extreme isolation, and mental health problems.
People interviewed shared how life during Covid was very difficult, and some were worried about getting back out into the community. People also told inspiring stories of resilience and the creative ways they found to cope through lockdowns and help each other.
You can find out more about the project and see a gallery of photos on their website
The project interviewed 25 people about life during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are some of their individual stories: https://www.bhspeakout.org.uk/covid-stories/individuals-stories/
During the interviews people shared their experience of life in lockdown. There were themes of isolation and mental health challenges and also of support, friendship and creative ways of coping. A series of short films were made, you can watch them here: https://www.bhspeakout.org.uk/covid-stories/themedstories/
As part of the project, a series of art workshops took place. Participants shared memories of good and bad times over the last few years and supported each other to create art about their experiences. They used drawing, painting, print and collage to make posters and also boxes to represent their lockdown worlds. These beautiful time capsules share what they missed, what they experienced, what they lost and also what they gained. Their artwork was shared in an exhibition in September 2022, ‘Lockdown the Lost years’ held at the Jubilee Library in Brighton. You can find out more about the art workshops here:
The Covid Stories project team was made up from people with and without learning disabilities. The project team included Emily Barratt and Danielle Garratt who work at Speak Out, Sarah Watson a Speak Out Trustee, Noelle McCormack a freelance researcher interested in life story work and Lucy Groenewold an artist and workshop facilitator.
The project team collected the stories of people who lived in different situations during the pandemic; on their own, in supported housing, with families, in shared lives and in care homes. They particularly targeted people who had been isolated and /or digitally excluded.
They interviewed people of all ages and with a range of disabilities. There interview questions were adapted and made accessible for every person.
Danielle and Noelle worked together to edit audio and film recordings and create individual stories and a series of themed films.
The project team are very grateful to their steering group who gave support and guidance during the project. The Steering group members included Dr Sue Ledger, Ajay Choksi (supported by Kanchan Kerai and Gosia Kwiatkowska) and Dr Nicola Grove.
Read the pdf book about Peter and friend's experience of Covid-19.
Covid Story Websites
There are some other sites where stories are being collected. Have a look...
Taunton Mencap's virtual art gallery
Run by Talkback.
Run by National Voices.
The Young Foundation: Voices of Communities
Covid and Me Diaries