Charity Spotlight | LDN London

14 June 2021

Learning Disability Network London (formerly the Westminster Society) is an award-winning charity providing services for people with a range of learning disabilities and their families. They have extensive experience is in supporting people with disabilities including people with complex needs and profound and multiple disabilities. The charity resonates with 4C Hotel Group’s core values, care, communication, and conscience. We sat with Laurence Swan, Community Engagement Manager recently to understand the challenges they may have faced during the pandemic, what tactics they used to overcome the challenges and the hopes for 2021 and beyond…

How has covid-19 impacted your goal of ‘Making a difference and changing lives?

It is now one year on since we were all plunged into the first national lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As an organisation we have been on an unprecedented journey where we have rapidly adapted to emerging challenges in ever changing situations.

From the outset our focus has been to keep the people we support and our staff as safe and well as possible.

How did you and your team manage to cope with the global crisis?

Our teams and supporters have worked so hard and been so supportive in such challenging and unpredictable times. Like so many health and social care organisations across the country we have had to change the way we do things. This has included the services we provide; the way we deliver support and the way we organise ourselves as a provider of care and support across London.

What tools and strategies helped you?

We had to adapt and make more use of technology, using Zoom to meet up, keeping in touch through our social media pages and we even started our own YouTube channel called LDN TV. This was a great way of keeping in touch with people and keeping them informed.

We have also campaigned for people with learning disabilities to be treated equitably on a range of Covid related issues with other vulnerable groups. This has included access to testing and vaccination. We are of course delighted that testing is now very much an embedded feature in services and the vaccine roll out now includes people with learning disabilities as a priority.

We have been working with our Local Authorities and GP surgeries to get vaccinations for the people we support. On 20th January we held a mass vaccination day in which nearly 100 of our staff and people we support across 3 boroughs received their vaccination. It was a really positive and well organised day and has enabled us all to look towards the future and see light at the end of the tunnel.

What role did your supporters and volunteers play?

We have seen remarkable resilience within our staff teams and from the people we support. We have been supported by our Health, Public Health and Local Authority colleagues, and have been united in our commitment to find our way through the effects of the pandemic together until we can reach a point of near normality.

Our volunteers and supporters have also adapted and continued to support us. This includes 4C Hotel Group who continued to fundraise for us and provided Christmas presents for the children who use our children’s services. Children’s services remained opened as usual as many of the children’s parents are critical workers who still had to work each day on the front line.

We had support from local supermarkets who gave our Support Workers priority shopping slots as well as local pubs and restaurants who donated food at the start of the lockdown. We also moved our fundraising online and had two successful online campaigns raising over £6,000.

We all look forward to more settled times. We know things will never quite be the same on many levels and change is something we have all had to embrace in recent months.

How do you see the future of LDN at this very moment?

A major change for us is that after nearly 60 years we have changed our name and we are no longer the Westminster Society. We will always see Westminster as our parent borough but believe that our new name – Learning Disability Network London (LDN London) – better reflects the organisation we are today and solidifies our commitment to making a positive difference to the lives of learning-disabled Londoners now and in the future.

For more information on Learning Disability Network London, please click here.

Should you be interested in volunteering with the charity or creating your own fundraiser in support of the charity please contact