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Still not Seen or Heard: The voice and experiences of people with learning disabilities during Covid-19

By Professor Matthew Reason, Principal Investigator of the ‘Creative Doodle Book’ project. The Creative Doodle Book project is a collaboration between Matthew Reason of York St John University, learning disability arts company Mind the Gap and Vicky Ackroyd of Totally Inclusive People.

A recurring feature of the UK government’s guidance during Covid-19 concerned ‘shielding,’ giving advice for people identified as clinically vulnerable from coronavirus to stay at home and self-isolate. This included many people with a learning disability or autism, such as adults with Downs syndrome.[1] This guidance was accompanied with recognition that, as well as being more vulnerable, people with learning disabilities may also require more support in understanding restrictions and managing changes to their lifestyle.[2]

Despite such measures – or more accurately, according to the Health Foundation, because the support provided to enable the measures was inadequate – 6 out of 10 people who died from Covid-19 in the UK have been disabled.[3] Figures from Mencap suggest that people with a learning disability have died from Covid ‘at up to six times the rate of the general population.’[4]

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Music and Poetry in the Pandemic

As part of the Pandemic and Beyond project we are working in collaboration with a Lived Experience Panel, a group of people whose lives have been impacted in different ways by the Covid-19 pandemic, to help us shape how we communicate the work of the research projects to ensure that we reach communities who might benefit from the findings. In this audio post Ronald Amanze, a member of our Lived Experience Panel, speaks about what music and poetry has meant to him during the pandemic. Ronald is a musician and music producer who uses poetry and music to record and explore his experience of living with dementia following a stroke.

You can read more about Ronald’s work here, and you can also follow him on Twitter. You can listen to his Dementia Diaries here. Ronald has recently presented and co-produced an episode of Music Memories, which is available on BBC Sounds.

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The Pandemic And Beyond: The Arts and Humanities Contribution To Covid-19 Research and Recovery

Reposted from the AHRC Arts and Minds Blog.

It is a year since the UK government announced the first lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, arts and humanities researchers have contributed significantly to tackling some of the major challenges caused by the pandemic. A new two-year project, The Pandemic and Beyond: The Arts and Humanities Contribution to Covid-19 Research and Recovery, has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s rapid response to Covid-19. Led by Professor Pascale Aebischer and a multi-talented team at the University of Exeter, the project will work with universities across the country who have carried out AHRC-funded research related to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this post, Professor Aebischer shares the team’s plans for the project and how they intend to amplify the impacts of Covid-19 research.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck the UK and the country went into lockdown, new laws were passed at speed, theatres and cinemas went dark, care homes stopped accepting visitors, and a population used to working, exercising and socialising outside the home was asked not to leave their houses or mix with other households. Soon it became apparent that the pandemic was affecting different communities in different ways, with particularly devastating impacts on older people and people with underlying health conditions, communities of African and South Asian descent, and those in frontline jobs and living in cramped conditions. As the death toll rose, families had to deal with not being able to be with their loved ones as they died and not even being able to comfort one another at a funeral. There was a rise in domestic violence, social media began to spread misleading messages and many freelance workers, especially in the creative sector, were left without access to the furlough scheme or any idea of when they might be able to return to work.