Kirsty & Marlene

Kirsty and her Mum, Marlene talk to Matt, our ICT Manager (and previous Reach Tutor) about how life changed when lockdown began, and how an equipment loan and his technical support has made a difference to their lives.

Kirsty & Marlene

Having 13 years’ experience of delivering courses at Reach, I’ve known Kirsty and her family for a long time! Having good relationships with clients and families from my time as a Tutor has really helped in recent times so that people can access support from someone they know and trust.

Before lockdown Kirsty volunteered at Reach Newark. "I helped in Pottery, Creative Communication and Sewing. I also helped my mum and the Friends of Reach with their fundraising. I helped support clients in classes, working one-to-one with them, with things like threading needles. I enjoyed volunteering because I like helping others. Volunteering makes me feel proud and has given me confidence." Kirsty is also a ROSE mentor for our Reach Out Stop Exploitation (ROSE) project, working with other adults with learning disabilities to develop and deliver training to schools, colleges and healthcare professionals on positive relationships and staying safe from sexual exploitation. When lockdown began, the loss of these activities left a big hole in Kirsty and her family's life.

"Kirsty needs interaction with other people, and not just the family she lives with. We know she needs more than we can give her. Matt's support meant that Kirsty could take part in the Zoom craft sessions, using materials that Reach delivered out to us for her to use during the session. Matt is a great asset to Reach, he really helped us out when he knew we were struggling, he talked to us at our level but was never patronising."


Kirsty at home with the flowers she made in her Zoom craft class

Kirsty at home with the flowers she made in the Zoom craft class

Without a laptop or PC at home, Kirsty was at risk of becoming isolated and losing vital skills that she has worked so hard to develop. Marlene, family carer to Kirsty and a self-confessed ‘technophobe’ said “At age 75 and 80, it’s hard for me and my husband as things develop in technology. You think you’ve got it then something changes! We usually rely on a family member for IT help, but Matt came around straight away, we couldn’t have got online without him."

We loaned Kirsty a laptop and helped her to learn how to join our Zoom craft class so that she didn't miss out on the vital social interaction she needs. The pandemic has shown us how, as life has become more and more ‘digitalised’, some of our clients and their families have been left behind. Many people lack up to date equipment, have internet issues or don’t know how to use platforms like Zoom. We organise technical support, advice and loans of tablets and laptops. I’ll never forget standing in Kirsty's garden, talking through the window from a social distance to help her and her mum get online on their Reach laptop – thankfully it was a sunny day!

Matt, Reach's ICT Manager

Even as we open our centres to clients, there’s still a huge demand for online support. There’s more work to do than ever before to help people use ICT safely and confidently.


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