Developing change-makers

MacIntyre’s Great Communities project in Worcestershire is a Creating Connections partner supporting people who have learning disabilities or who are autistic, who are at risk of becoming isolated. Lockdown is difficult for everyone, but for people with learning disabilities and people who are autistic it can be particularly isolating. Often, people may need a hand to get online or to learn how to use technology like tablets or computers.

Through digital training and specialist support, Ewan, Laura and Jess have gained new skills and have been able to go on to share their talents to inspire others.

Ewan: Movie fanatic

Ewan is passionate about films and he enjoys reviewing the latest releases as well as old favourites. When the pandemic struck it meant that he wasn’t able to see his friends. He had never used video calling before, so MacIntyre provided training to help him keep in touch with people. This support has meant that he still felt connected at a time when he couldn’t meet people face to face due to lockdown restrictions.

Tailored technology training has helped Ewan gain confidence and now he supports other people to get online. Ewan knows that spending more time indoors can be lonely and he wanted to share his passion for films by creating his own regular discussion group called Movie Mania. Both familiar faces and new people are welcome, so it’s always a lively session.

Ewan enjoys planning his weekly sessions and organises artwork to share about the group. Above all, running the sessions gives Ewan a focus and a sense of purpose that he is able to help other people stay connected. He’s come a long way from simply reviewing films that he’s interested in and now asks the group to make suggestions and choose their favourite movies.

Ewan’s mum says:

“Thank you for making Ewan’s dreams a reality.”

A video callLaura: Gaming guru

Laura loves gaming and films. After having training to use Zoom, she started coming along to Ewan’s Movie Mania group. Seeing Ewan running his own session inspired Laura to host her own sessions and share her love of gaming. 

Laura has worked hard to create the Gaming Gurus group, where people can come and chat about consoles, review games and share tips on how to level up. Laura is also thinking about how to ensure her group understand how to stay safe online while making new connections. 

Laura says:

“Lockdown is hard. I don’t know what I would have done without these sessions. It’s great to be able to connect with friends and share about the new games.”

Jess: A language for life

Jess teaching signing onlineThanks to support through Creating Connections and MacIntyre Great Communities, Jess is going on to act as a peer supporter and create change for other people with learning disabilities.

Training to get online and access video calling has opened up a world of opportunities for Jess. Since learning how to download Zoom and join calls, Jess has attended social and activity groups that have helped her stay connected and meet friends. 

Jess is passionate about sign language and has been supported to start a virtual British Sign Language (BSL) and Makaton group. In the future, Jess wants to gain a qualification as a BSL trainer and become an interpreter.

Jess says:

“I want to use sign language as a way of helping other people. I have lots of deaf friends and they wanted me to teach them. Now I want to help more people to communicate how they feel through sign language.”