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High 5s since Covid struck

Along with everything else in the UK, our weekly High 5s youth club ground abruptly to a halt in March 2020. Although the club has been sorely missed by members, their families and volunteers, there have been various alternative activities taking place by other means – read on!

By Easter, the Easter Bunny felt that it was safe enough to make chocolaty deliveries to members, siblings and volunteers; some by post, but most arrived on foot through the letter boxes.

"Thank you so much for the Easter card and chocolate received this morning. My son’s eyes lit up when he saw the chocolate!"

- Parent

In May, we arranged a series of free First Aid Awareness training sessions on Zoom. This offered our families and also our volunteers a chance to ‘up skill’ and potentially gain some life saving knowledge.

By June, we felt that we could safely resume our birthday bag tradition and month by month, by prior arrangement with members’ parents, volunteers arrived on the doorstep to sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY (through masks of course!). Siblings are very much a part of High 5s as we acknowledge them as young carers, and we mark their birthdays too with the arrival of the golden ‘birthday bag’ and a chance to choose their own packet of sweets from it. These visits have been a wonderful opportunity to chat to families face to face, but in a socially distanced way.

Three of our treasured members have reached 18 during the year (our maximum age), so it was also time to reminisce, say ‘goodbye’, but equally to promise to keep in touch via our various LB Mencap activities. Sadly, these doorstep deliveries had to stop when the strict December 2020 lockdown started, but birthday cards and IOUs for birthday chocolates are being sent by post instead.

A group chat on Messenger allows our High 5s parents to swap ideas and information. We also held a Zoom catch-up in June, promoted various on-line activities and talks and held an end-of-term cowboy-themed Zoom dance party from Spectrum in July – great fun!

Due to many of our members falling into the vulnerable category, we did not hold any group events in person over the summer, but offered to fund a day-trip to Thomley Activity Centre for High 5 family bubbles during the autumn half term for any who wanted to take up the offer.

"Many thanks again for funding our lovely day out!"

- Parent

Back in December 2019 we had Magic Dave in person to entertain us at our Christmas Party. To end 2020, we had the next best thing and invited him, plus members from our other LB Mencap groups and those on our waiting lists into our own homes via an interactive Zoom show!

We haven’t forgotten our wonderful volunteers either and have included them in the Easter and birthday treats as well as the Zoom events. Normally we have termly ‘Pizza and Planning’ sessions for all our volunteers. Although these obviously haven’t been able to take place, we’ve met virtually, eating our own pizzas at home and holding a pizza quiz. We’ve had to say ‘goodbye’ to several of our experienced teenage volunteers in the summer as they disappeared to university. They were well loved by our members and will be much missed.

We are so keen for anyone who would like to be involved as a volunteer to make contact. Some group training will be arranged as soon as it looks likely that Covid restriction will ease.

Hopefully that day is drawing closer….

"Thank you for the support during these months. We appreciate it."

- Parent


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