Going online in lockdown – Daniel’s story

Going online in lockdown – Daniel’s story

by Darren Johnson (Stay Up Late Campaigns Co-ordinator) and Daniel Randall-Nason (Stay Up Late Ambassador and Trustee)

Whether it’s speaking at conferences alongside MPs and social care professionals, taking part in trustee meetings, chairing one of our advisory groups, coming along to socials or simply enjoying nights out with his gig buddy, having a learning disability has not prevented Daniel from playing a major role in the life of Stay Up Late and Gig Buddies over the years.

Lockdown, due to the coronavirus, hit Daniel hard: no conferences, meetings and gigs or even catch-ups in the local café. While our charity rapidly adapted to new ways of working with an extremely popular online music festival Coronavirusfest, coffee mornings via video conference and a quirky range of evening socials courtesy of Zoom, it became more and more apparent that a number of our participants were being left behind as our focus temporarily moved away from pubs and bars to laptops and smartphones.

Daniel pre-lockdown

Daniel didn’t have a smartphone and only had sporadic access to a shared computer in his supported living accommodation. We spoke daily on the phone. He still contributed ideas for blogs, I printed off and sent him articles that others had written and we began doing the 8pm Clap for Carers every Thursday night together over speakerphone. He even took part in a couple of Zoom meetings on speakerphone with me holding my phone up to the microphone on my laptop so Daniel could participate.

Things changed quite dramatically last week, however, when Daniel was able to buy his own laptop. Within an hour of his carer setting it up for him we were on a Zoom video call – the first time we had spoken face to face in many weeks. And this week Daniel has enthusiastically taken part in our online activities including a Zoom coffee morning and a virtual pub quiz.

Daniel takes up the story:

“Being able to see friends and link up with other gig buddies is definitely better than just talking to people on the phone. You can see them and it’s just like being in the room with them. I have been watching the Hastings Jack in the Green video from the weekend – that was fun. And I’ve been fishing around to look for things to keep me entertained. I can follow all the blogs and write blogs myself and it’s fun learning to use Skype and Zoom and all those things.”

Being digitally connected has opened up a whole new world for Daniel and is transforming his experience of lockdown. He was fortunate in being able to use his savings to buy a computer but we know not all of our participants are quite so lucky – which is one of the things we are currently trying to secure funding for.

We know that being digitally connected is hugely important during lockdown. But as a charity that campaigns for the rights of adults with learning disabilities to have a full and active social life, we quickly realise how important technology has become in helping any of us to have a great social life. From checking What’s On guides, to texting our friends to arrange a meeting point to posting photos on Facebook of a great night out, technology has become an essential part of staying up late – with or without lockdown!

Let’s work to make sure we don’t leave people behind and we help get more people connected.

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