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Coronavirus – reduction in services

17/03/2020

In light of the growing impact of the Coronavirus, Sense Scotland is reducing services.

We will continue to offer services to disabled people and their families but are working on the over-arching principle that our priority is the well-being of the people we support, our staff and volunteers. The following measures are being put in place to protect people and minimise the spread of the Coronavirus:

Supported Living Services will continue to be delivered as normal. Other services will be delivered at a reduced capacity. These are:

Respite, Children’s Services, Group Services, all TouchBase Services, Arts and Music and Hillview and Community Links.

If you receive a service from us, staff will explain what these decisions mean for you. Please appreciate that we are in an unprecedented situation and may not have the answers to all your questions at this time. 

The following will cease to offer face-to-face activities:

  • Early Years Programme
  • Family Advisory
  • One Giant Leap
  • Our Voice
  • Brownies
  • Partners in Communication

We are looking at other ways – online for example – of how these staff can support families who access these activities.

All of the above is under constant review and subject to change. Sense Scotland is continuing to follow all official advice and have a dedicated planning and response team in place to oversee us through this challenging time.

Click here for general information on the Coronavirus.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen to staff?

Staff who provide essential services and who are able to work (i.e. where there is no risk to their health or the health of people they support) will continue to do so. However, we may need to redeploy staff to services with the most need. In line with official advice, those who can work from home will be asked to do so.

I am very anxious about supporting my child at home for an extended period of time. What can you do to help?

Sense Scotland are looking at various ways we can support families during this time. Please keep an eye on our website and our social media channels for details. Our Family Advisory Service are open 9am-5pm. Call 0300 330 9292 or email: advisory@sensescotland.org.uk  

How long will this reduction in services last?

This is a developing situation and we will make decisions in line with official guidance.

How will I be updated with information?

Where a service provided by Sense Scotland has to change, we will speak to the family directly about it. General information on Coronavirus is available on Scottish Government and NHS Inform websites. Sense Scotland also has general information and advice including Easy Read information on the website.

Are your buildings closing?

No. We will continue to offer reduced services unless there is a risk to people we support and our staff.

Will TouchBase Glasgow remain open?

Yes, at a reduced capacity. TouchBase Glasgow’s Business Centre is closed, the café is closed to the public, but remains open for people we support and staff. The Milnpark St and Children and Families entrances will be open for use by our families.

Will your shops stay open?

Shops will remain open for the time being.

What about fundraising events? 

Events – including the Glasgow Kiltwalk – have been postponed until further notice. Keep an eye on our Facebook and website events pages for information and updates.

Are meetings with your organisation postponed?

Following advice to stop non-essential travel we will ask staff and partners we work with to have meetings via phone or video link where possible.

Who can I contact?

Our Family Advisory Service are open 9am-5pm. Call 0300 330 9292 or email: advisory@sensescotland.org.uk

A teacher to remember

20/02/2020
Woman smiling at the camera
Karen Goodman-Jones

It doesn’t matter who you ask, regardless of how long ago it was, but we all remember particular teachers from our schooldays who remain in our memories for different reasons.

This crosses countries and continents, and for Rachael, a pupil in primary in Nkhata Bay in northern Malawi, one particular teacher has already helped to change her life for the better.

In the second year of our four-and-a-half year project, funded by the Scottish Government, we’ve been identifying disabled children and supporting them to gain equal access to learning. In turn this gives them a future of their own choosing that only a formal education can bring.

Rachael is enjoying school.

This community-empowered project aims to address ingrained and inherited negative attitudes towards disability. We work with our local partners, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, in 493 schools across the Northern Region. We work with the children, their parents, brothers and sisters, teachers and community leaders to understand the rights of all children to an education and enable them to reach their potential regardless of any additional needs. So far we’ve reached more than 3750 children.

Many common beliefs surround disabled children, including that they are ‘cursed’, incapable of learning and that it’s a waste of limited family resources to send them to school. Rachael told us that she used to be locked in her grandmother’s house because she was epileptic and wasn’t going to school. Her other grandmother heard about this and took over her care. But she didn’t think Rachael could go to school either.

Gilbert Nkhoma, a local teacher who was trained about the benefits of inclusive education on this project, used to see Rachael on his way to and from school and one day asked why she wasn’t there. The next day he went to meet her grandmother to talk about Rachael going back to school. At first resistant, she agreed on hearing about this project which encourages and supports disabled learners to attend.

Gilbert Nkhoma

He told us: “The project has helped a lot as there is change of mindset. Even Rachael’s grandmother’s attitude has changed, and she’s been able to open up about her granddaughter’s condition and attended family awareness communication training and joined the parent support group.”

Rachael said: “I am doing very well in class and even assignments given to us I pass very well. I believe I am going to do better. I am happy that I have been enrolled back in school than in the past when I was not going to school. I thank the teacher who came to talk with my grandmother that I should go back to school.”

Mr Nkhoma added: “When I saw Rachael not going to school I felt very sad and made an effort so that she should be enrolled. There is a big change on Rachael’s performance. She loves school so much and is always present.”

As Malawi Project Co-ordinator for Sense Scotland, I have the privilege of visiting Malawi and seeing for myself just what results this project is having. This is just the impact on one life that is being changed thanks to this project which still has three years left to run. Think how many more individual stories there will be?

Our thanks to the Scottish Government for making this possible.

Karen Goodman-Jones

Malawi Project Co-ordinator

Watch our Early Years film

29/01/2020

It’s not just the tea that our Early Years team are good at providing – their programme of events helps families with children with additional support needs access advice, support, activities and friendship to help the whole family thrive.

Last year, at any one time, Sense Scotland provided support to 200 people across Scotland through early years and family support projects. Key to that is our Early Years Programme, funded by the Scottish Government.

As many as 50 percent of the families engaged with the Sense Scotland Early Years Programme haven’t previously been in touch with others for support, so for the communities in which it operates, it has become a real lifeline. Our ambition is to work with partners and funders to make it a truly nationwide family network and when you watch our short film you’ll see why.

Mum Gillian remembers taking her daughter to one of the programme’s ‘Stay and Play’ sessions for the first time. She explains: “We were so surprised because Olivia absolutely loved having the music session, she really came alive during it. She was communicating through music – the first time we’d ever experienced, or seen, anything like that.”

For Tracey the atmosphere and support from staff made Early Years activities a “safe space” in which to take her son Ben and meet other parents facing the same challenges.

She says: “We’re all in the same territory, but it’s OK. Sometimes it’s just nice to come in and you don’t need to worry for that hour to two hours. And you always get a nice cup of tea!”

To find out more please get in touch by email or by calling the Early Years team on 0300 330 9292.