Wandsworth company warns of pandemic impact on mental health of adults with learning disabilities

A Wandsworth based arts organisation for adults with learning disabilities has warned of the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health of those they support.

Izzy Ivezic of The Baked Bean Company, said that when the pandemic hit last March, their organisation immediately switched to preventative programmes to promote mental health and minimise social isolation. 

Many similar companies were forced to move online and the crucial contact that centres offered was compromised.

Ivezic explained how essential it was that support was still there for those who needed it and despite multiple lockdowns, the Wandsworth company never fully shut its doors. 

She said: “For some, breaking their routine might have had more of an impact than catching the virus.

“Our successes during the pandemic have been down to the dedication of our team and very quickly recognising the importance of ensuring the wellbeing of students.”

The Baked Bean Company offers projects and groups based around theatre, drama and the arts to promote social inclusion, help adults build confidence and gain new skills, as well as helping them to integrate into society.

The organisation released a dance video in October 2020 titled “Life in Lockdown” which featured students airing their frustrations with the pandemic through the art of movement. 

Dance is one of the many arts the company offers and Ivezic explained that it is beneficial for physical and mental health.

The powerful routine featured eight individuals showcasing how lockdown had affected them and their mental health.

Alongside the dancing, the video featured statistics related to how adults with learning disabilities have been affected by the pandemic.

A study conducted by the Government last year revealed that the death rate from Covid-19 of individuals with learning disabilities was up to six times higher than the general population. 

Another recent study conducted by Manchester Metropolitan and Warwick University revealed that many adults with learning disabilities have suffered from loneliness and anxiety since the pandemic began as many of their community centres and support systems had to close.

Their carers have also suffered, with many experiencing increased stress and hardship.

Over the last year the charity made a large number of welfare calls to both their students and their families and carers.

Throughout the pandemic, the company has also offered free therapy to support those whose mental health has suffered.

The Baked Bean Company at Disneyland in 2019. Image Credit: The Baked Bean Company

While the calls are not the same as being in person, Ivezic explained there have been some positive outcomes from the move to calls. 

She said that one positive is that they also had contact with the carers and parents and revealed that the calls had offered these people support too, with some describing it as a lifeline.

Ivezic explained: “For a long time, those with learning disabilities have not been at the top of government thoughts.

“We have now been recognised as an essential service.”

Featured Image Credit: The Baked Bean Company

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Wandsworth centre warns of pandemic impact on mental health of adults with learning disabilities - South West Londoner - Ability Today
17 April 2021 12:04 am

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