Ealing Mencap has been supporting local people with learning disabilities for half a century. And during the COVID19 lockdown their work has never been more important. They have now launched a new telephone and email service, called Lifeline, for those people in our community who need some extra help.
The Lifeline service isn’t just for existing Ealing Mencap customers. It’s for any Ealing resident with a learning disability, physical disability or autism. People who need support can call 020 8566 9575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cut off from friends and family
Lesley Dodd, chief executive, explains: “We want everyone to get help if they need it. The COVID19 outbreak and social distancing are difficult for us all, but for people with disabilities, and their family carers, this is an extremely unsettling time. Usual routines and social interactions have been removed leaving people feeling scared, anxious and isolated. It’s quite worrying for all of us at Ealing Mencap.”
There are around 7000 adults with learning disabilities in the borough and Ealing Mencap is regular contact with several hundred. Lesley’s concern is that there are potentially thousands of people who are not getting any support and who don’t have access to the internet for helpful information.
She continued: “Many of the people we are trying to reach don’t have access to the internet or a smart phone, only access to a mobile or landline. This makes it even more challenging to reach them with online information, which is why we are asking everyone in Ealing to help us to spread the word about Lifeline. If you know someone who has a disability and they, or their family, needs support, please tell them that they can get in touch with us.
We can offer a friendly ear and support
“We have trained staff on the phone who understand the challenges, who understand safeguarding, and know what to do if there is an issue. We have already helped people to access food and prescriptions, as well as given some social support, but we are worried that there may be people who can’t get out and buy what they need. Many people don’t have internet banking and might be struggling to access money and pay their bills.
“A lot of people with learning disabilities face health inequalities and if they contract COVID-19 they are in a very high-risk group and so it is particularly important that they are helped to stay home and stay safe while maintaining their emotional well-being. Many will be really worried about going outside; we can offer a friendly ear and support. We want to reach out and help them, even if they don’t normally come to Ealing Mencap.
“What I’m concerned about is that without a service like Lifeline, many people are going to be on their own. COVID19 has highlighted how many people with disabilities are being left behind. Many of them will be having no contact with people outside their home which will ultimately result in increasing loneliness and deteriorating mental health conditions. That’s why its so important that people help us to get the word out about Lifeline.”
Grateful for any support
Ealing Mencap is also looking for donations to help them to address some of the inequalities that COVID19 is highlighting. Lesley explains: “We are setting up some online training skills courses for people so they can better access all of the information that’s out there. We are very grateful for any support that people can give to us to help with this. Even if it’s a pound- it all helps.”