Muswell Hill charity’s support is ‘lifeline’ for families with learning disabilities during coronavirus lockdown

A Wave Zoom chat. Picture: Ben Sudell/Wave

A Wave Zoom chat. Picture: Ben Sudell/Wave - Credit: Archant

The coronavirus lockdown has been discomfiting for everyone, but for young people with learning disabilities of all kinds – and their parents and carers – it is especially fraught.

Luckily, in Muswell Hill the inclusivity charity Wave has moved its efforts online and been “a lifeline” for these families.

Daily Zoom calls for young people, Yoga classes during the mornings and WhatsApp based support groups of stressed parents have all been huge successes for the charity – even with coronavirus keeping everyone involved indoors.

Celia Webster, who co-founded Wave a decade ago, told this newspaper: “Our idea is always not to do stuff for people, but to do things together. I think people don’t fully realise how separate we often are.

“Particularly with Covid-19, a lot of young people, particularly with learning difficulties are finding it tough. Often they like to have order, and with all of this that’s especially difficult.”

Celia, whose daughter Maia was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child, explained that the daily calls saw a mix of young people with and without disabilities catching up with each other – and some had even celebrated birthdays over webcam.

Ben Sudell, who usually runs Wave Cafe which holds weekly events at Muswell Hill’s URC church told the Ham&High: ”It’s been a really nice mix of people involved. The lockdown is generally quite disconcerting because what we are about is social integration and bringing people together – almost the exact opposite of what we are being asked to do.

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“The challenge has been to bring people together regardless.”

One of Celia’s other daughters, Jess, helps to organise the daily Zoom calls. She told this newspaper: “What’s nice is we have a whole range of people every day. It really is a fully inclusive thing. It becomes just like any other chat you look forward to with your friends.”

Local mum Stephanie Buckingham, whose 10 year-old son Christian has severe learning difficulties, said life as a carer under lockdown had been “really, really hard to cope with”. But she added that staying in touch with Wave had made all the difference.

“Everything closed down in a matter of days. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this,” she said. “I’ve been able to talk about anything that’s tough, anything that’s going through your mind. They have been a lifeline, Celia’s been a lifeline. “