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94% of Leeds Mencap families said that they have felt more isolated during Covid-19

  • By Abi Hart
  • 11th November 2020

We know that COVID 19 has been challenging for many families across the country. The current pandemic has put them under incredible strain with many feeling overwhelmed, isolated and alone as much of the usual support around them disappeared overnight.

We supported families from the start of the crisis in March to the end of summer with a range of support from weekly phone calls to keep in touch to online activities like zoom bingo and activities for parents like mindfulness. Our youth clubs particularly enjoyed the talent show! We also sent out a range of activity packs to the children – from sensory packs including home made playdough to gardening and craft kits. We wanted to see how our families and young people had been coping during the pandemic so we sent out a short survey in September for parents to complete. What the results revealed was how extreme the impact of the pandemic has been on  families who have children and young people with learning disabilities and how it has put both parents and their children under incredible strain.

For the children and young people Leeds Mencap supports, COVID-19 and the lockdown has had a huge negative impact on their lives with parents telling us that 65% of children experienced a worsening in their mood and 53% did less activity.

Worryingly 94% of parents said that they have felt more isolated than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.  And many parents (76%) reported that their mental and emotional health had worsened with 77% saying that they have experienced increased anxiety.

What the survey also confirmed was what we have been told anecdotally over the past 6 months by the families that use Leeds Mencap; how important our activities and support have been during COVID-19.

With more local lockdowns and tighter restrictions on the horizon it’s unlikely that family’s feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed will ease significantly. That’s why at Leeds Mencap, we’ll now be looking at continuing to adapt what we do so our families and children continue to get the help they need. This might be looking at more online support for parents like training courses and information provision as well as more online group activities for children like singing and exercise.  What we do know from this snapshot survey is that families and young people with learning disabilities need us now more than ever.

Cath Lee

Chief Executive Officer, Leeds Mencap

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