We’ve seen so many examples of amazing resilience, courage, creativity and even humour from Livability’s services around the country, during the past few exceptional and unforgettable months. People we support – many of whom are ‘high risk’ because of the health and disability issues they live with – and our adept staff have found ways to work to exceptionally high health and hygiene standards to keep everyone safe, but also to carry on enjoying life and take care of their wellbeing.
We wanted to share some memorable moments from 2020 with you, highlighting just a few of the 1,000 people with disabilities and our 1,000 staff, who all make up Livability.
Walking it: Rebecca decided her disability wasn’t going to stop her getting fit, when she took on The 2.6 Challenge, walking 200m every day for five days. Rebecca doesn’t communicate verbally but her support worker Paul commented: ‘200m may not sound much but with the effort it takes Rebecca, it’s akin to an able-bodied person climbing Mount Everest on their hands and knees!’ As well as raising £1,300 for the charity, Rebecca’s 2.6 Challenge proved a huge boost to wellbeing, with friends and family coming out to support her.
Packing it in: Grace and other staff at Livability Dolphin Court, Essex, took on the enormous task of packing and delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to 12 Livability services. The team at Dolphin has been exceptionally agile in devising an efficient system, in addition to their usual roles, which has meant reliable, cost-effective provision of masks and other kit. In other regions, one manager, Tracy, elected to live away from home at a Livability service in Dorset, which needed additional support, whilst Michelle, working in the North East, secured fairly-priced sanitising gel for services by approaching a local gin distillery that swopped production to this product – and refused to profiteer on their sales to Livability.
Tunes for Treetops: Being stuck at home with little to do is something that people who use Livability services are not used. In normal times, they are supported to be busy and active, and out in the community when they wish. Livability Treetops manager Mandy was concerned that the pandemic shouldn’t mean boredom and isolation for residents so, using Facebook contacts, she arranged for a barbeque at the Essex home – and a live music gig, with musician Ed Talbot over the fence in the next door garden! Careful planning meant the event was safe as well as hugely enjoyed by the Treetops community – and the gig was featured on BBC Essex.
Step-by-step inclusion: Livability’s annual Ability Sunday event, based around a special church service, encourages churches to celebrate the gifts that people with disabilities bring to church life. With few churches meeting in buildings, Ability Sunday developed an online ‘pilgrim journey’ event. With digital resources that could be used by individuals and groups, churches considered what it takes to change direction in life’s journey and were invited to take part in a virtual pilgrimage. You can find our Ability Sunday Pilgrim Journey resources here.
Keep fit – with a chopping board: Lockdown meant Livability’s school and college had to close for several months, with families caring for young people, often with complex medical needs, 24/7. PE teacher Simon Higgins, at Livability Victoria School, decided to keep his students fit and in touch, with innovative PE videos that would be enjoyed by the young people and families at home, often using everyday household items – like socks and chopping boards. The videos were a hit and were picked up by other schools and disability organisations. During lockdown, both Victoria School and Nash College kept in touch with students with worksheets, phone support and counselling. However, school was definitely missed: on return in the late summer, one student even said he’d missed school dinners.
Flower power: When vital fundraising events were cancelled at Livability Holton Lee, home to the Flourish ecotherapy project, creative staff turned to art for a solution. Taking the theme of bee-friendly plants and flowers, Holton Lee devised the Art to Fundraise initiative, inviting artists of all abilities and experience to create a piece of original, postcard-sized art. To inspire entrants, Holton Lee hosted an art webinar, with ideas for inclusive ways to make art. Artists donated their work which will be displayed in an online gallery and available for viewers to own, for a suggested £20 donation. Dozens of artworks were produced, including David’s, who lives at Livability Anvil House, and produced a pastel drawing of a lavender bloom.