Active Local: Watford Central
Tackling Inequalities Fund Case Studies
Watford and District Mencap Society supports around 800 adults and children with learning disabilities, providing a range of services such as training, residential housing, advice and guidance and leisure and learning activities.
A grant from TIF allowed Watford Mencap to hire Garston Manor School, a specialist school which is fully accessible, for their summer Playscheme. They said, ‘The funding enabled us to hire a venue which gave children with learning disabilities face to face support and activity … the fabulous space we were able to access has meant that the children can be supported to play socially distanced, can be active in a safe and enclosed environment and enjoy activities that they have missed through lockdown.’
Most of the children had been shielding through lockdown, becoming increasingly isolated: ‘The Playscheme gave us the opportunity re-engage with the children as well as to see what other support we could provide to them during the pandemic.’ One child’s experience sums up the importance of the Playscheme: ‘X is a child with a learning disability. She had been isolated during lockdown, unable to attend school or other groups she would normally attend. She came to our summer Playscheme once a week through the school holidays and had a great time. She displayed challenging behaviours at times, but our experienced staff were able to support her to feel more comfortable and to enjoy the activities. By attending our summer Playscheme, X is able to understand that she can still take part in activities outside of her home.’
Watford Mencap received many positive letters, emails and messages. ‘The Playscheme played a key role in offering much needed respite for parents and carers, as well as the opportunity for young people to do something ‘just for them, without parents!’
Also, everyone was confident about the measures in place to support social distancing and the young people, some of whom had not left the house since March, felt comfortable and safe in the environment that Watford Mencap created: ‘It was exactly what was needed for my son; familiar faces in a different environment.’