The theme for Learning Disability Week from 15th to 21st June is the importance of friendships. At New Directions, the past few months have shown how well people we support have maintained and developed their relationships making them stronger together. This bonding has helped them to cope with the sudden changes to their lives and they have also found new ways to keep in touch with friends and family through technology too. Now that Queens Court has opened, everyone will be extending a warm welcome to its new tenants and making new friends when the restrictions lift.

The Coronavirus lockdown is a shared experience which will not be forgotten, and it has tested everyone’s spirit. The people we support have found a sense of unity. This has included clapping together for the NHS and keyworkers every week, a gesture that connects them with each other and the wider community. Cooking together has become a regular pastime. Whether they are baking, batch cooking or cooking a Sunday meal, people we support enthusiastically help each other and rely on their friends. Martin and David’s homemade cake for our ‘Rainbow Tuck Shop’ is a great example of their natural generosity for their friends.

Genuine concern for each other is demonstrated in how people have worked together to understand their role in the lockdown. The rainbows painted in group projects at the beginning of lockdown, Tina’s messages to “Stay Safe” and Bob’s regular comments on Facebook have helped their friends to remember what they needed to do.

People we support enjoy birthday celebrations and there have been several during lockdown with much singing and dancing at each household. The enthusiasm people have for their friends’ milestones has meant that those with birthdays have been able to forget about the lockdown just for a while and enjoy their special day. Exercising and playing games together in communal gardens or backyard and venturing out for a walk as a household has created a strong sense of togetherness.

Friendship that will last a lifetime

As restrictions lift everyone is adapting to their ‘social bubble’ which means that they can see people who they have missed and some will be seeing the people they are in long term relationships with for the first time in months. Everyone has kept each other smiling over the past few months and that has meant that the experience has been one of camaraderie that will last a lifetime.