Breaking Through During an Outbreak Same storm The current time feels unpredictable, overwhelming, uncertain and chaotic as we are thrown into to a "new normal", changing how we live, work and play, day by day. Some of us now feel lonely, confused, anxious, bored, frustrated and helpless.... sharing a desire for choice and control, belonging and purpose. Some of us are discovering how connected and interdependent we are (and also how agile we can be). Many people have a lot to lose and have never known a time like this, when we are denied things we realise we relied on and feel forced to sacrifice things we are normally entitled to. Nobody wants to miss out whilst we make efforts to shield those most at risk from this virus taking it’s toll. We are all on a learning curve, improvising, trying to use our instincts to find our way. Nobody has been here before so everyone is playing it by ear. We need friends, allies and unity more than ever. Disabled people, of course, are no exception. Different Boats Many people admit to avoiding disabled people, feeling they lack common ground (in normal times), and disabled people sometimes disclose distancing themselves. The world (on and offline) is a scary place as it is, for so many of the 240 disabled people Breakthrough work with. Unfortunately, many people we know are familiar with feeling compromised, detached, limited, hopeless, listless and cut off. Many people lack savings, contactless payment methods and supplies and face additional costs normally, but are now under event further strain, mentally and financially. Some people’s roles are changing (for example, people’s in/formal care relationships). Grief and bereavement are affecting some (directly or in their circles). Some support networks are not available now. Disabled people have expressed fear that the system is hostile and that they won’t receive the same level of healthcare as non disabled patients… if hospitalised. Digital exclusion is a reality for too many disabled people but luckily some people who thought they’d be excluded haven’t been. Show solidarity to others: Keep up to date with information on Coronavirus: - generally: https://www.breakthrough-uk.co.uk/news/keep-up-to-date-with-the-latest-information-on-coronavirus - For Greater Manchester: https://www.breakthrough-uk.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-coronavirus-information-for-all-greater-manchester-boroughs See what you can do to help: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely--2/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely. We can’t afford to not use the lessons we’re learning, for there's too much at stake. Our approach Breakthrough has been promoting the rights, responsibilities and respect of disabled people since 1997. Breakthrough shares positivity in order that disabled people feel emboldened, not vulnerable. We share our knowledge that disabled individuals are often resilient (even if our health can fluctuate and be precarious), flexible and patient. Our frontline staff have described it as an honour and a privilege to have the human connection with the people we do. We will always seek solutions to the barriers disabled people are up against (there’s never a ‘one size fits all’ answer)! We steadfastly amplify disabled people’s voices and try to uphold the Pillars of Independent Living. We work with employers and organisations to include and engage disabled people. Practising what we preach We often say "business as usual" prevents opportunities; therefore, we ourselves are taking stock of, and adapting fundamentally, how we operate. As we pause the face-to-face accessible services we had established, tried and tested to empower disabled people, we are shifting to alternative specialist responses to their needs. Breaking barriers whilst locked down This is a challenging time for our community, with serious implications. Our team are doing our upmost and our clients are doing their best. Most of us try to look out for ourselves and each other and value a call. We have been picking up the phone where possible and the response rates are better now. This does mean more communication via third parties (eg. relatives or support workers). Clients are considerate and glad we’re on hand, they are expecting our call. We are getting to know each other even better from our homes. We are focussed on being there personally to help individuals as we are even more of a lifeline. We support clients to understand how to keep themselves and others safe. We care about how everyone is doing on their journeys and sharing the struggles and strengths. We try to continue to connect and not let others down, who may regress into social isolation or lose dignity. This pandemic is adding another layer of anxiety. We have been dealing with emergencies as well as ongoing issues for clients living alone or insulated with families or others. We are relieved that so far, many clients are still upbeat, in good spirits, strong willed, with a sense of humour and excitement about the future. Some are eating healthier and intending to sustain this. We are acknowledging that ‘what good looks likes’ is different and finding things that pique people’s interest. We are doing all we can to maintain a sense of perspective and morale in these unique circumstances. We are having honest conversations with clients, organisations and policy makers about what lies ahead. In the meantime, we will make the days count. Finding solutions Trying to carry on amidst this outbreak is not easy – for individuals or organisations. We will use the resources we have to minimise disruption for those we support. We can't afford to dip in the midst of this crisis. You could make a vital difference. One way is to register to get donations at no cost to you when you shop online http://donate.giveasyoulive.com/charity/breakthrough-uk If you are a UK taxpayer, don't forget to tick the Gift Aid box when prompted, which means we can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you donate, at no cost to you. We promise support from your home will enable our staff to work from their homes to reach clients in their homes! It will help us communicate with isolated/isolating disabled people across Greater Manchester. Our staff will be able to call individuals known to us on a weekly basis to ensure they have what they need. The more we raise the further we will be able to assist and the more people we will be able to support. All of your donation will be spent on: Costs for staff to call clients Resources to assist people such as digital IT devices and software We will be update our social media channels and websites with how people have benefitted. Thank you for showing you care so we can look out for those we know often have nobody else.