The Coronavirus Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List celebrates people with learning disabilities and/autism, and the hurdles they have had to overcome because of the pandemic.
Launched on International Day of Disabled Persons – 3rd December – Leaders enjoyed a special online event hosted by 2019 Leader Murray Bruce, his father BBC Radio 2’s Ken Bruce and actor Liam Bairstow.
Liam Bairstow, the star of Coronation Street and the winner of Dimensions’ 2019 Leaders’ List, said:
“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the lives of everyone in ways that, only a few months ago, would be difficult to imagine. For many people with learning disabilities and autism, the pandemic has been a period of anxiety and uncertainty, as our daily routines changed beyond recognition.
“And yet, it has also been a time of people persevering, coming together and looking after each other. It’s wonderful that Dimensions’ special Coronavirus Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List celebrates those stories of everyday strength and resilience in this extraordinary time.
“I’ve been inspired by everyone who made it onto this historic List, and I look forward to following each person’s journey. I hope that very soon we will all be able to be in one place to celebrate their stories and achievements together.”
Ran by Dimensions, Learning Disability England and VODG the List publishes the Leaders’ stories and aims to increase media representation for people with learning disabilities and autism.
Dimensions also ran research that found 93% of people with learning disabilities and autism feel more isolated from society because of the pandemic. 76% have been made to feel like they don’t matter and 75% worry that after the pandemic they won’t get the same opportunities they had before.
Almost 98% feel that the government should do more to understand how coronavirus has affected people with learning disabilities and autism, and that it’s important for more people to understand how coronavirus has affected them.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t advocating for themselves and others. All across the country, people with learning disabilities and/or autism are helping other people and themselves to overcome the challenges the pandemic has brought.
Sarah Walters, Campaigns Manager at Dimensions, said:
“It’s incredibly inspiring that, despite the challenges faced this year, so many people with learning disabilities and autism continue to achieve remarkable things and are more determined than ever to see a brighter, more inclusive future.
“Our research highlights just how isolating the pandemic has been for people with learning disabilities and autism, with many worried that in the future, they won’t have the same opportunities they had before. Yet, many remain hopeful our society will evolve to be more inclusive. We cannot let them down.
“Covid-19 can’t be an excuse to sit back and do nothing. Our research should be a wake-up call – the pandemic needs to be a catalyst for change for us to do more to listen to and understand the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism.
“We are so proud of, and inspired, by this year’s Leaders. Now, more than ever, we must stand with them to help tackle the inequalities they face every day.”
There are 26 winners on the Coronavirus Leaders’ List, all of whom have done incredible things; from raising money for charity and lending an ear to people who need a friend, to producing easy read resources and lobbying government.
All stories are available to read at dimensions-uk.org/covidleaderslist and you can get involved in the conversation online using #CovidLeadersList