Out of Hours Club Rutland (OHCR) is a social group for young adults with additional needs and learning difficulties. Before lockdown, OHCR’s members met regularly to enjoy a range of fun activities such as going to the pub, cinema and theatre trips, bowling and days out. These outings, supported by age appropriate personal assistants, encouraged independence and alleviated isolation. Many members would not have had a social life at all without OCHR.
The members were very adversely affected by the lockdown. Being unable to get out had a negative impact on them and their families. However, with a £1,300 emergency grant from the Community Foundation they have been able to change the way they ‘get together’ by socialising online.
The emergency grant, which was made up of funding from the National Emergencies Trust and private donations, has allowed the group to purchase a number of tablet devices for members of the group without access to a suitable platform for online video calls. These were delivered safely, and with help from their families, and remote support, the group is now able to meet online for virtual catchups and games sessions.
Jacqui Darlington, Staff Member and Secretary of Out of Hours said: “One thing I was conscious of when we started Out of Hours, is that the young people in the group only went out with their parents. They were never going out with young adults their own age or making friends and we wanted to help to change that.
“I have personally taught both the members with learning difficulties and their parents to use these tablets via phone and video call, so that they can easily get involved in our online group meetings. It’s nice that many of these young people can join in, or they can just listen in and gain confidence from interaction with others of their own age group.
“Once we are out of lockdown, we will be adding virtual meetings into our usual schedule of physical meetings to continue to develop and hone the technical skills of members with the tablets. We feel that having a mix of meeting types, along with the obvious benefit of more social time will be very useful for everyone.
“The application for funding was very quick and straightforward, and it’s been extremely well received and well used. Our members need a lot of support to stay happy and positive and the grant helped us to give that support.”