In conversation with… Nikki

  • 29
  • Jun

Nikki of Elfrida Society on what’s happening for – and the importance of – Learning Disability Week

Learning Disability Week is organised by the learning disability charity Mencap. It aims to improve the quality of life for people with learning disabilities, by raising awareness about important issues and fighting stigma and discrimination.

The theme for this year is ‘living life with a learning disability’ and the aim is to explore how people with a learning disability are reconnecting with friends and their communities after Covid. It’s an opportunity to talk about the issues many people still face after the end of restrictions, like still having to isolate or dealing with poor mental health and anxiety.

To mark the occasion, we spoke to Nikki Chivers from Elfrida Society, which represents people with learning disabilities and delivers services such as one to one community and care act advocacy, to empower people to make informed decisions, as well as sports activities for people to exercise, meet people, learn new skills and have fun. She tells us what’s happening in Islington this Learning Disability Week and why it’s so important

What is Learning Disability Week about?
The week is to celebrate learning difficulty (LD) individuals, giving them an opportunity to show their abilities and achievements. It is a chance to show people that having a disability does not mean you can’t learn and do the same things that non-disabled people can achieve.

It is also about raising the profile of specialist services and support that are on offer should they be needed. Being involved in team sports is a great way into the community, not to mention the positive impact it can have on wellbeing. It can help ensure people understand that there are many people who are overlooked and that it takes just a little effort to create a more inclusive society.

What’s happening in Islington for Learning Disability Week? 
First of all, there is the LD Awareness Sports Day, which reflects partnership working in Islington. The Elfrida Society is one of those partners The use of sporting activities shows that LD people can participate like everyone else, which sends a very positive message. It takes place on Thursday 23 June at Highbury Fields from 10am until 3pm.

We also put on other activities, such as My Way Day, which was organised by Islington Council and their partners – including Arsenal Football Club, which made its ground available. This event helped those involved to promote their organisation’s services. There were art classes, music, dancing and yoga, in recognition of the positive impact participation in physical activity can have on people’s wellbeing.

In addition, an educational DVD tool starring LD and autistic actors was created for medical professionals, to show how their access needs can be met. We can all be better if we know what it is that we are not doing correctly.

Who can attend the sports day?
Anyone can attend, whether you are an LD individual or not. You can either participate in the sporting events or come as a supporter, carer, support worker or family members. Elfrida’s partners such as Arsenal Football Club, SportsWorks, Middlesex Cricket and Moosey T-shirt will also be there on the day. A great benefit is that all can see just how much can be – and is – achieved when we work together.

What other services and support are available for people with LD?
Islington has a diverse range of services, support and education or training available for people with learning disabilities, as well as their carers and families. There are the advocacy services, disability equality training, and consultancy and service auditing, all of which are provided by Elfrida Society, Centre 404 and Mencap.

In addition there is Community Catalysts, who have been commissioned by Islington Council to improve the community offer for people with LD through taster sessions and introductions to different local organizations. There are more than 40 different activities included that happen regularly around Islington, most of which are either under £5 or free to attend. This includes a range of sports activities, arts, music, dance, social opportunities and skills development, and even a night club! Some of these organisations traditionally support people with LD, and others are getting involved because they want to become more inclusive.

Many of these organisations attended the My Way Day event, so they could show off what they do in person including Daylight Studio, WeSwim, Kingsley Organisation, Mahadevi Yoga, MMARAP and Artbox, to name a few.

If you receive support and would like find out more through the taster programme, you can get in touch with Rebecca.hindmarsh@communitycatalysts.co.uk.

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