Library outreach helps adults with learning disabilities: Digital Lifeline

Image shows three people looking at a laptop with a wall of books in the backgroundAbilityNet is working in partnership to ensure adults with Learning Disabilities get access to technology in the community. 

One project is with Penrith Library, which runs an outreach project that has accessed technology through the Digital Lifeline project spearheaded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport alongside charities including AbilityNet. 

“Pre-lockdown we had groups come into the library to access the books mainly and occasionally the computers with a support worker on a weekly basis.  We have also been involved with an art group for people with learning disabilities and mental health who have used our establishment as a base to come and be involved in an art project which then was displayed in the Library,” said Claire Dougherty, library outreach project manager at Penrith Library

Community support for Adults with learning disabilities

Alongside other libraries within Cumbria, Penrith applied to Digital Lifeline to support adults with learning disabilities. “One of our libraries has been involved in a similar project in previous years and all the main libraries in each area decided it would be a good thing to be involved in especially regarding the situation with Covid,” said Claire.

“It’s a very rewarding project and helps people with learning disabilities access the internet who wouldn’t be able to or think that they can’t do it. It also provides resources for people who would not normally be able to afford it and additional resources which help with their disability.”

The main goals have been to help people use the internet, play games, contact GPs, and look up hobbies during the lockdown.

Support from AbilityNet for adults with learning disabilities

AbilityNet supports people who have received tablets through the scheme. “I have had lots of support from AbilityNet which has been invaluable,” said Claire. 

“Everyone had an assessment and when I explained it was a friendly discussion to support them and find out what else AbilityNet could provide the candidates to help them with the tablets, they all went for the assessment,” she added. 

“I have also had lots of discussions on the phone with Sian Hendy who I feel has supported me too. I am the only Library Project Officer based at Penrith and Sian has provided a lot of support for me sorting these out. Sian has always answered questions and supported me throughout and we have been able to move on to the next stage at a good steady pace.”

Nine tablets are with adults with learning disabilities.

How AbilityNet can Help