Merton Centre for Independent Living helps deaf and disabled residents through the crisis with advice and advocacy and disability arts.
Reaching out to already isolated and vulnerable groups through lockdown has been a vital but challenging endeavour. For those with disabilities, this has been compounded with some unable to use the technology that many other groups have been able to utilise.
Merton Centre for Independent Living is run by deaf and disabled people for deaf and disabled people and works to reduce isolation and loneliness, provide support around benefits, community care and hate crime and provide disabled people with the chance to volunteer in the local community and gain skills. During lockdown, it needed to adapt its programmes, and applied for an emergency grant from Merton Giving so that it could continue to offer a reliable and accessible service for deaf and disabled people in Merton.
The funding has helped the charity to reach out in a number of ways, such as investing in printers for its caseworkers so that it could provide support via letters to disabled people that are not online or struggle with telephones.
A Craftivism and Chat art initiative, which helps deaf and disabled people to stay connected and speak up through disability arts, has been able to continue through the coronavirus crisis thanks to the grant. Arts supplies have been delivered to the participants so they can use art to ‘help make change happen while staying home’, bringing people together and reducing loneliness.
The grant has also been used to provide volunteers with equipment that has allowed them to get involved from home, enabling them to support others as well as helping with their own isolation.
“A huge thank you to Merton Giving, and all that have contributed to the fund, from all at Merton Centre for Independent Living. Your support has allowed us to continue supporting deaf and disabled people when they need it most” says Charlotte Wilson from Merton CIL.