From 16th March 2020, GDA suspended all planned programmes due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The staff team switched to home working, and immediately began reaching out to our 5000+ disabled members to listen and offer support, through phone calls, postal mails outs and online. We were extremely lucky that our funders allowed us to redirect resources and employ a fantastic team of temporary workers to help us make over 8000 phone calls, send out 20,000 mail shots, and collect 2,100 in-depth responses to our COVID-resilience survey within the first 4 months.
Our well developed infrastructure as a community of identity allowed us to connect with over 6000 disabled people during these months, and the time and lived experience contributed by our members enabled us to adapt our services, rapidly develop new ones to fill gaps and meet emerging needs during the crisis and beyond.
- We adapted our Rights Now Welfare Rights project, Future Visions support and Learning programme, to be delivered remotely online and by phone. Over 2020 and 2021, events and programmes were almost entirely mainly online with face to face returning tentatively at the start of 2022. Online options continue for those with extreme social anxieties, without adequate supports to be able to attend or for those who do not have enough protection from the vaccines.
- We quickly set up a new Lifeline service, delivering food and essentials to over 2800 disabled people unable to access other supports. This continued for much smaller numbers of disabled people facing complex barriers e.g. social care cuts, until summer 2022.
- Our check-in calls developed into a specialist Wellbeing service, with 3 Wellbeing workers supporting hundreds of disabled people to cope and feel heard, and develop strategies to boost their health and wellbeing during these challenging times. GDA Wellbeing continues to present with 2 full time equivalent Wellbeing Advisors
- GDA became one of Connecting Scotland’s first pilot communities, helping develop an accessible approach to tackling Digital Exclusion when disabled people most needed it. Over the period and continuing, GDA Connects has sourced, set up and distributed over 500 devices to disabled people, alongside dedicated coaching to help participants get online.
Supercharged: a human catastrophe – summary report
Supercharged: A human catastrophe is the culmination of the work undertaken during the first lockdown in 2020 – and outlines our members’ concerns before, during and after lockdown.