Doing Something Useful During Lockdown

Lockdown has put many voluntary and charitable activities on pause particularly where social contact was key to the services provided. This has certainly been true for my charitable activities which are around helping young people towards employment by providing work placements, internships, training etc. With no provision in schools for careers advice the activities of the voluntary sector has become more important, so for activities to be on pause has only exacerbated what was already quite a serious problem.

Getting into employment for young people is a problem but for Special Needs children it is incredibly difficult. However when these young people do get into employment they can often be excellent employees bringing many qualities to bear on their task. Consequently persuading employers that these children can be good employees is a central part of dealing with this problem.

During last autumn when the covid cases took off again I was in conversation with Sandfield Park School which is a special needs school about what we could do to help those young people approaching the end of their time in school. After some thought we decided that we might be able to tackle one issue and that was that young people at special needs school live a quite cloistered life and don’t get the opportunity to listen to and talk to people about their career and life experiences. We decided to run a series of career talks given by people who had had a successful career and were willing to talk about what inspired them, how they decided on their career and then the decisions they made as their career progressed. The talks would be delivered via Zoom which is a free video conference app that has allowed many organisations to continue during lockdown.

My challenge was where to find such speakers but I felt sure that the Athenaeum membership would be willing to help. I sent a request to Jack to put a note out in his weekly “Advisor” and I was overwhelmed by the responses and within a day or so I was oversubscribed with nearly thirty responses. I was pleased and grateful that so many Athenaeum members offered to give a talk.

So since last autumn Athenaeum members have provided a weekly talk at 10:30 every Monday morning through to the end of this term. The talks were all excellent and very well received with many questions following each talk.

Finally, and this was the purpose of me writing this note, a very special thank you to all those members who gave a talk which has helped lift the isolation that this lockdown has brought to these children.     

David Roscoe

25th March 2021