An important announcement

Blog by Dorothy Watson, CEO

Dorothy smiling at the camera

Asbutr hough frasslesnbrorosi ……….is that clear? 

As I look back over the past year, the word that stays with me is ‘clear’.

It became clear that the pandemic was going to change all of us in many ways – how we live, what we value and who we most miss. It was also clear to me that we were facing the same daily challenges as those with learning disabilities – not being given sufficient time to understand or process change, not seeing friends, being stuck at home, trying to understand new social cues and behaviour, feeling forgotten or viewed as a potential risk or threat. 

It also became clear that our world and the information needed to live in it was not clear, especially for people with learning disabilities. Our world was a very different place.  

So, we launched a twice weekly radio show called ‘Sunny Sessions’, we shared information and shout outs, we opened an online hub with Easy Read information, we photographed people on their doorsteps so they were not forgotten, we advocated for people’s basic rights to access the same services as others, we launched zoom groups and activities to stay connected and we called those who were struggling and frightened. Day by day it became clear that although socially distanced, we were becoming closer and that we were in it together. 

If the world of Covid has taught me anything, it is clear that we are all the same – with or without a learning disability. The only difference is what society expects from us and how we are treated. It isn’t the common ground that we share but the barriers that divide us.   

As we move forward in this pandemic, clearly it is time to change and challenge barriers…. Is the information you provide easy to read and understand? What do you do when you see someone struggling to understand where to queue? Do you hear or witness points of views that exclude or discriminate against people with learning disabilities? 

We are moving towards a new world. We are not the same as we were a year ago. Help us make these next steps accessible ones and live with inclusion at the heart of everything that we do.   

#BreakingBarriers…….. is that clear?

International Women’s Day

What it’s like to be a woman with a Learning Disability

Photo of Jovi smiling

One of the women on the Sunnybank team who we all feel inspired by is Choices Officer, Jovi. She has achieved lots of great things, and always makes others feel uplifted and happy.

Here Jovi shares her experience of being a woman with a learning disability.

“I think it can be quite challenging being a woman with a learning disability. The disability I have (Autism/Autistic Spectrum Disorder/ASD) is often difficult to diagnose in females as the assessments are more male-based.

I get quite a lot of panic attacks when something doesn’t go right (even if it’s the smallest thing) and I have a lot of special interests that people younger than me would have (like Disney & Unicorns).

There are some positive things I do which help me to go about my day to day life. One of the things that I do is wear my Sunflower Lanyard. I make sure I wear it when I go to concerts for my favourite bands Little Mix, Rak-Su & JLS and when I go to major events such as the Summertime Ball and when I go to the airport.

It means that staff are made aware that I have a hidden disability without me having to tell them and then they try to help me in the best way possible. One time that The Sunflower Lanyard really helped was on the way back from France in 2019, I got to go in the minivan from the EasyJet plane to the terminal and then got to go through the terminal from the gate to Baggage Reclaim in one of the golf buggies!”

World Book Day

To mark World Book Day 2021, Sunny Sessions DJ Jon shares some of his favourite books and memories of reading with us.

Jon Andrews

I often find I can’t get into books and start a book then never return to it.

As a child I used to love Enid Blyton books such as The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. I loved how they were written and felt I was part of the adventure. 

One book that really sticks in my mind from secondary school is Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D Taylor. This book was written in the late 70’s and is about the Apartheid (when people were segregated based on their race) in South Africa. The book tells the story of how white people were treated in a superior way to black people. It really opened my eyes to how a society judged its people and their value simply by the colour of their skin.

Thankfully we live in different times now, and value everyone equally regardless of race. The theme of the book has really stuck with me all these years later as I think its important to look to the past to learn lessons for the future.

We run two online book clubs each week for our members. Using the Books Beyond Words range, we use the pictures to make up our own stories.

If you would like to join our club, please get in touch by emailing