Isolation leads to innovation for Scotland’s largest member-led charity.
Less than 1 in 3 people who have a learning disability can name at least one close friend
COVID-19 has led to even more social isolation for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people
ENABLE Scotland has responded to this challenge by launching ACE Connect – Scotland’s first online community for people who have learning disabilities
ENABLE Scotland is the country’s largest member led charity campaigning for the rights of every person who has a learning disability. As part of a membership network of some 5,000 people across the country, the charity also runs regular community groups (ACE) for people who have a learning disability to connect, empower and inform people about the big issues effecting their lives. ACE is the voice of ENABLE Scotland’s membership.
For many of our members, these groups are a lifeline. Many do not get any other form of social care support, and our groups are one of the only routes they have to friendship, connection and support.
Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the charity has been forced to suspend all ACE Group meetings.
During the initial week of lockdown, ENABLE Scotland’s members, some of them really vulnerable members of our communities, told the charity that they were really worried about social isolation, feelings of helplessness and about being detached from the world, including their friends, families and loved ones.
One member said:
I’m really struggling with living on my own, I don’t see anyone and all I keep hearing on the T.V is bad news and it makes me anxious. I also really miss my friends at ACE and the team at ENABLE, I wish there was some way they could be more visible throughout all of this; even if it’s just for somebody to talk to.
ENABLE Scotland has responded by launching ACE Connect. This innovative online support community will provide:
- Reliable and accessible information about COVID 19 and the impact it has on day to day life
- Activities to keep minds and bodies active
- The availability of someone to talk to
- More immediate support for people who are really struggling to cope
This support will be delivered via a robust and innovative online delivery and support model, facilitated at all times by our skilled team. ACE Connect offers three core aspects of support:
- Online content for entertainment, physical and mental stimulation, information, and advice.
- Support delivered both on Facebook chat, Messenger chat and by telephone.
- A helpline for emotional support available for members between the hours of 09.00 and 19.00, Monday – Friday.
Jan Savage, Director of External Affairs said:
ACE Connect is a truly innovative new digital support service, created by members for members. It brings together people in their time of need with many aspects of ENABLE Scotland’s ICT systems and software in an effort to support, combat and overcome these terrible feelings of stress, doubt and anxiety which threaten to unnerve us all in the current climate. Our message to our members is – we are here for you all, and we will get through this together.
Following the launch, ENABLE Scotland members said:
“We told you this is what we needed, and you’ve made something great!”
“I’m really struggling right now this will really help”
“Everybody talking on Zoom was my idea, thank you for listening to me and making this happen”
“Thank you I have struggled a bit more than others because I am used to being sociable so I am finding it harder than ever but I find it easier with being connected on zoom so thank you”
ACE Connect will be available throughout the COVID19 lockdown period, and until we are in a position to resume group meetings.