Barney the bear brings joy in lockdown

Livability staff know the people they support very well – and know that some, who have an intellectual disability, choose to have soft toys in their rooms, something which brings joy and comfort.

Livability North East’s Vicky Chaters saw how Covid-19 restrictions were making some people she works with feel lonely and unhappy and hit on the idea of bringing along Barney the Bear when she visits our independent living services as a support (key) worker.

Barney, who was made by Vicky’s mum, is now part of the Livability North East team – and as such, abides by strict hygiene and distancing restrictions. He can’t be touched, he stays at least two metres away from others and he happily spends 24 hours in a bag after each service visit.

‘It’s really hard for people we support not to get out, see their family and friends and go shopping,’ says Vicky. ‘Having an intellectual disability can make it difficult to understand why this is happening. Playing along with Barney as a pretend visitor is something I thought might make some people we support feel happy.’

Barney seems to be working his magic: ‘One young woman we support, Lauren, is happy and chatty when Barney appears – she can’t stop laughing at the pranks he’s playing!’ says Vicky.  ‘Lauren’s joining in the game, like “how did he get there? I didn’t see him move, haha!”’

Follow Barney’s adventures on twitter #barneybringsjoy