CHESHIRE Down’s Syndrome Support Group (CDSSG) are highlighting the plight of young adults with Down’s syndrome, whose learning and life skills development have been critically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charity’s #lostinlockdown: Our Future Matters campaign calls for ministers to allocate a portion of the £300million the government has committed to help catch-up learning this year to be ringfenced for young people with Down’s Syndrome who were over 18 on 5th November 2020. This date is when adults with the learning disability were put on the Critically Extremely Vulnerable List and asked to take extra shielding measures. The funding will enable them to repeat a year of college or access other support, such as a supported internship if they choose, as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group CEO Lawrence Caygill commented:
“The pandemic has created an education crisis for all children and young people. This has been intensified for those with Down’s syndrome, many of whom have not been able to attend college due to being on the Critically Extremely Vulnerable list. They have not had the face-to-face interactions, repetition of real-life skills and opportunity for work experience needed to successfully transition into adulthood. This has resulted in extreme learning loss, which if not addressed, will result in a lost generation that have not had the opportunities to build the learning and life skills needed to engage fully in society.”
The charity has written to Cheshire MPs urging them to raise the issue and solution with Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s Education Recovery Commissioner and the Department of Education. They have also launched a national petition.
20-year-old Joe attends Petty Pool College in Cheshire. His mum Sue commented:
“We believe the government should fund the option of an additional year at college because Joe has missed so much of his crucial final year. Not only has he missed the academic aspect but also the wider learning opportunities, work experience, travel training and social interaction. Joe wants to get a job, a flat and a girlfriend. We hope he will get a job when he finishes college and live independently from us and be happy.”
For more information about the campaign, to sign the petition and to access support from Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group, please visit: www.cheshiredownssyndrome.com.