A £2,000 Neighbourhood Fund grant from Dorset Community Foundation has helped bring people with learning disabilities together and given them the chance to express themselves.
Opportunities R Un Limited on Portland wanted to run weekly art and activity sessions to help people who had become isolated during the pandemic reintegrate with the community, develop their social and independence skills and make new friends.
A video made by the group shows the success the sessions are having. Trustee Louise Cosgrove said: “One woman who is very shy and lacking in confidence had never attended community activities before. She lives with two other people, both of whom have very strong characters and have a significant influence on her which has resulted in a lack of confidence to make decisions for herself.
“Having attended this project, she was introduced to a new circle of people and has established strong and balanced friendships. She now independently attends a Women’s Health and Wellbeing group with her new friends at a day service independently.”
More than 20 people attended the sessions each week, which also included cooking and baking, exercise, yoga, beachcombing and crabbing and karaoke.
It is critical to provide opportunities to excel, to give confidence, to overshadow the disability
Louise said the group could not have organised the sessions without the grant. She said: “Art therapy is so important because it can be undertaken by so many different people. A person of any ability, with any level of learning disability can take part in art therapy, particularly since non-verbal activities can form a large part of arts therapies. It is critical to provide opportunities to excel, to give confidence, to overshadow the disability.
“We now know that we can deliver activities of this sort in the future and plan to do so.”
Dorset Community Foundation Director Grant Robson said: “Thanks to the generosity of our donors we are able to fund groups like Opportunities R Un Limited to help them meet these needs. People with learning disabilities are often at risk of being left behind and that was even more the case during the pandemic. It is wonderful to see the group having such fun together and gaining in skills and confidence because of it.”
Watch Opportunities R Un Limited’s video here.