Learning Disability Big Health Week 2021

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People in south east London with learning disabilities will be able to take part in another online week-long ‘Big Health Week’ from Monday 6 December to Friday 10 December.

The event – which will focus on health while involving fun for participants – follows on from the success of last year’s event.

Organised by NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Learning Disability Big Health Week 2021 will involve shared activities via Zoom and aims to help and engage with learning disability participants, their support workers, carers and family members.

South East London CCG chief nurse and learning disability and autism programme joint senior responsible officer, Kate Moriarty-Baker, said: “Last year’s event, and its predecessor, the 2019 ‘Big Health Day’, were very successful, and we wanted to keep the momentum going and build upon the achievement.”

She added: “People with learning disabilities have always experienced vulnerability, and the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated this. They often find it more difficult to access health information and many suffer from social exclusion and isolation.”

South east London CCG learning disability and autism programme joint senior responsible officer and Lambeth executive director for adults and health, Fiona Connolly said: “Initiatives such as the Big Health Week break down barriers, making sure that people with learning disabilities can be included and informed, in a supportive, social, safe and fun environment.”

The 2020 event was particularly popular, with more than 700 attendances across 35 online sessions, and the organisers are hoping for similar numbers this year.

South east London GP, Dr Esther Appleby said: “We were very pleased with the interest the event generated last year because it helped so many people.”

She added: “Many of those with learning disabilities fall victim to discrimination and find themselves excluded from society.

“This ultimately translates into poorer health outcomes and a much poorer quality of life. We’re determined to challenge these inequalities, and ensure that people with learning disabilities in south east London can access the same support that many of us take for granted.

“The Big Health Week is a fun and social occasion, but we’re also getting across important health messages. Last year’s event generated very positive feedback from those with learning disabilities, their loved ones and carers and we’re looking forward to an equally positive week this year.”

Even though the event will be ‘virtual’ and held online, Dr Appleby believes there is even more scope for getting the health and fun message across.

“The event will last for a whole week and covers a number of different health areas,” she said. “The activities supporting these topics are also enjoyable and engaging.”

Those who will take part in the event will be able to find out more about annual health checks, mental health, cancer awareness, and healthy relationships. The activities of the Big Health Week will include a quiz, singing, theatre performances, dance classes and exercise.

Dr Appleby added: “No one with a learning disability should be marginalised, excluded from society, or suffer poor health because of lack of support and information.

“We hope that the Big Health Week will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of those taking part.”