Events celebrate Learning Disability Week

A community gardening workshop was held at Cricketfield Community Garden, Torquay,

A community gardening workshop was held at Cricketfield Community Garden, Torquay, - Credit: Cricketfield Community Garden

A number of coordinated events are taking place across Torbay to link in with the national Learning Disability Week celebrations.

The events will be open to everyone in the learning disability community and will include activities such as gardening workshops, drama performances, music sessions and much more.

The events are the collaborative efforts of a number of community and voluntary organisations across the Bay, along with Torbay Council and the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

Leader of Torbay Council, Cllr Steve Darling said: "Learning Disability Week is about raising awareness of the issues faced by those with a learning disability as well as celebrating the work and the services we provide to support people with a learning difficulty within our communities.

"The programme of events that have been coordinated as part of the week, is a tremendous example of people coming together to provide fun and engaging activities, which are accessible to all."

Sharon O’Reilly, interim deputy director of adult social services for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Learning Disability Week is such an important calendar date and this year is no exception. It is a week where many activities and celebrations take place and where people with learning disabilities, their families and those who support and work with them, come together to meet or make new connections.

"Many of us have had to face social isolation during the national and local responses to the pandemic and this has been felt particularly by people with a learning disability and their loved ones and carers.

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"We already know that people with a learning disability are up to twice as likely as the general population to experience mental health problems, this is often linked to factors such as discrimination and social isolation."

Cllr Jackie Stockman, Cabinet member for adults and public health, said: "This week is for us all to celebrate and have fun; activities and events where people can get out, enjoy themselves and meet up with friends they may not have seen for quite a while.

"It’s been a difficult year for everyone, but we know that people with learning disabilities and their carers have had a particularly tough time."

Following the Government's announcement to delay the easing of lockdown, some of Torbay's planned events for the week have had to be postponed.

Discussions are taking place on when these events can safely be rescheduled, and more information will follow soon.

Sharon O'Reilly added:  'It was with sadness following the Government announcement that we needed to curtail some of the activities which had been planned to celebrate this week but there is much still happening, and we are working together to make sure that we can provide some shared activities later in the year, so watch this space!

"Everyone involved is still excited about the programme of celebrations that are able to still take place."

Events in Torbay include:

Our Space – outside wellbeing sessions with the forest school at the Acorn Centre, Torquay, tomorrow (Friday, June  25), 1pm to 4pm.

This is a free session open to anyone who enjoys being outside and around a campfire, or for those who feel that being outside would benefit them.

Try your hand at a number of activities including: fire lighting, campfire cooking, gardening and wood work.

Book in advance: Call Dan Best on 07905 765 263 or email danbest@torbaycdt.org.uk.

Local Mencap Torbay's Virtual Picnic - online event, Saturday June 26, midday to 2.30pm

This online virtual picnic organised by the Torbay local Mencap committee is the finale of the week's events and an opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate.

Enjoy conversation and live entertainment in the safety of your own outdoor space or indoors, if weather is wet.

To take part you will need to provide an email address to the local Mencap team, you will then be sent a link and passcode prior to the event. 

To book, email chair@torbaymencap.co.uk

The week also included a community gardening workshop at Cricketfield Community Garden, Torquay, yesterday (Wednesday, June 23) and a community drama workshop - final performance at St Mary Magdalene Church, Torquay, also yesterday.