This week Woolwich – the Stay Up Late campaign comes to south-east London

Stay Up Late Ambassador Andrew Walker and Campaigns Co-ordinator Darren Johnson take part in a meeting of the learning disabilities group hosted by Oxleas NHS Trust

This week, as part of Stay Up Late’s ongoing engagement work, we visited Woolwich for one of the weekly learning disabilities group meetings hosted by Oxleas NHS Trust. One of the group’s regular participants, Laura, spoke very movingly at Stay Up Late’s (un)Ordinary conference about being a mum back in March and the joy her son, Alfie, brings to her life. We were keen to build on these links with the group and were really pleased to be able to visit and talk to them about Stay Up Late’s manifesto and campaign work.

We got people telling us about the type of things they liked doing in an evening – this ranged from going to gigs, going to the cinema, playing computer games and watching wrestling. However, there are barriers to enjoying a night out, though. One participant mentioned the problem of support staff having to finish early – although it wasn’t a problem for him as he didn’t have paid support but did have a friend he was able to go to gigs with. He was a big heavy metal fan. Another participant mentioned worries about crime and the much-publicised spate of stabbings in London. This put him off going out at night – although if he had someone to go with and help him get home safely he’d love to go and see the wrestling at Wembley, he said.

As one of our current Stay Up Late Ambassadors, Andrew told the group about the sort of things being an Ambassador might involve and encouraged people to volunteer. He talked about the opportunities that being part of Stay Up Late had given him, including a trip to Australia when they were setting up their own version of Gig Buddies in Sydney. “I put a lot into it but I get a lot out of it, too,” he explained.

Reflecting on the meeting on the train back home, Andrew commented,

“Today’s visit was really good. The group was engaged and listening and full of ideas. It’s very good for Stay Up Late to work with groups like this so we can expand our campaigning and really get the message out there.”

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