Leading Charity Makes Lockdown Easier for Little Boy with learning disabilities – with extra help from the First Minister

May 12, 2020 Press Release

The First Minister sent a special video message to 7 year old Matthew to reassure him that it is ok to let social care staff into his house during lockdown, thanks to intervention from ENABLE Scotland.

Lockdown is hard for everyone, but especially for people who have learning disabilities.  It can be difficult to make sense of the rules, and can be extra worrying if you need people to come in to your own home to help provide you with some support to stay well and safe – especially for children who are keen to follow the rules set by the First Minister, like 7 year old Matthew Burrows.

Matthew Burrows, aged 7, lives in Stirling with his twin sister Ava and their parents.  Matthew has autism and learning disabilities and ENABLE Scotland has supported the family for a while.  Since the lockdown was introduced, the traditional way of supporting Matthew to go out for a few hours a week to allow his parents some respite had to stop.  His parents wanted some extra support at home for a few hours to allow them a short break from caring, and ENABLE Scotland was working with the family to make this happen.

ENABLE Scotland’s Stirling service manager Nicola Smith explains:

The family haven’t had support for a while due to the COVID-19 situation, however they are really struggling, and they needed a break, so we pulled out all the stops to get support ready immediately.  But, we had a problem.

Matthew met Nicola Sturgeon last year when she visited his primary school, and he listens to everything the First Minister says. The rule that you shouldn’t have people coming to your house during the lockdown made him stressed and anxious about his Personal Assistants coming into his home. He didn’t understand that this is an exception and needed some extra reassurance that it’s ok. We need to provide support to allow the parents a break once a week, but don’t want to be causing Matthew any increase in stress.

ENABLE Scotland campaigns all the time for the rights of people with learning disabilities, and I just thought it was worth asking my colleagues in the campaigns team to ask the First Minister, or someone close to her, if she could let Matthew know that it is ok for him to have Personal Assistants in his house, and he won’t be breaking the law. I know it’s a big as – she obviously has much more pressing issues to deal with, but I thought it would be worth a bash! 


ENABLE Scotland contacted the First Minister – and she was delighted to help.  She has sent a specially recorded video directly to Matthew:

Firstly, thank you so much for listening to all the advice I’ve been giving; telling people to stay at home and follow all the rules and do proper social distancing. People like you are really helping us right now in the fight against this virus. But I wanted to send you a wee message about your Personal Assistants and to tell you that it’s ok to let them in your house because people like that are doing really essential jobs; they’re there to help you and your family.


Matthew’s mum Erica said:

We just can’t believe it.  The minute the video stopped, he turned to us and said ‘It’s ok now, the ladies can come in.’  He is over the moon and watching the First Minister’s video on repeat.  We can’t quite believe that she would take the time to do this, especially with everything else she has to do just now, and we are all so grateful – but especially Matthew – he just loves her!  And now we are getting the support we need as a family again.


Theresa Shearer, CEO of ENABLE Scotland said:

At ENABLE Scotland, our values are not just words that hang on the wall – this story from start to finish captures everything that I love about the ENABLE Scotland family, and we are all so grateful to the First Minister for helping us to provide the social care support that Matthew and his family need during these unprecedented times.

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