"It’s almost been five years since I’ve been involved with Impact Arts– it’s crazy how the time flies.
I completed my Creative Pathways course in December, with the East Coast showcase, that you can view here on YouTube – almost 900 people watched it on Facebook! On the programme we also did a socially distanced beach clean at Portobello to clean up all the rubbish!
I am now on a programme with Street League, 🙌. A great opportunity that Impact Arts helped me get involved in. Street League is a football organisation. The course started mid-January and they deliver an SQA award in customer service. The first half of the day on the course consists of employability workshops and the second half is all about fitness. They also offer support and advice for anxiety and mental health issues, which is handy too me. I don’t really know if I have said but I have anxiety and I have had it for about eight years now. It’s got slightly worse with the current pandemic and lockdown and but at the end of the day things are going to get better - I think it’s important that I hold onto that little bit of hope.
At least during lockdown its been nice not rushing around to go to appointments, or commitments of any other kind. I‘ve been in town 4 times since the pandemic – the second time was to meet up with SAM Radio in September to record an interview in which Forth One broadcasted a show about SAM Radio in October.
The Scottish Government, Republic Media and Bauer Media Group (Forth One owners) have teamed up to create a one-off Radio Documentary that aired across the Hit Radio Network in Scotland; Tay FM, West FM, Clyde 1, MFR, North-sounds 1, Radio Borders and Forth One. It was a huge once in a lifetime opportunity to broadcast on a major radio network, talking about our experiences with Autism and how SAM Radio has helped us. They wanted to know about our experiences before and after we joined SAM Radio and the barriers that we still face as Autistic People within the community. It's a good platform to publicise our shows to the radio big wigs...an opportunity like this doesn't come that often.
We’ve got over 2,000 followers and hopefully, will be able to get a bit more – what really counts though is how influential we are not how big we are; for example, Forth One actually supporting us, so that’s pretty cool! Plus are also working with Amazon to get SAM Radio on the echo. So, now you can say “Alexa; put on SAM Radio” 😅
An update from Sketchy Youth, Dylan on what he's been Up to over the past few months; taking part in Impact Arts virtual programmes and how he's still managing to DJ!
"I participated in Creative Pathways with Impact Arts, from October 2019 - March 2020. During my time on Creative Pathways I had been doing a range of creative activities such as script-reading, drawing, and character/stage-design. The programme unfortunately ended prematurely in March due to covid-19. We were supposed to be having an exhibition on LGBT Histories at The Museum, but... lockdown happened.
Since then I’ve been doing some stuff with Impact Arts during lockdown via Zoom, namely: the Sketchy Youths and Make Space– I actually even DJ'd on Zoom for the last day for Make Space as well.
Before the pandemic, every Wednesday, I would go to Crew to do DJ-workshops: then the pandemic happened. Non-essential shop/outlets are starting to open again (Crew is technically an essential outlet anyway since they offer support for people‘s health and well-being), but they were having to arrange one-to-ones in different places with people at the start of the pandemic.
I usually DJ on the vinyl turntables at Crew, but that is difficult to do over Zoom as I’ve only got one turntable at home. Its been just over a whole year now that I’ve been a DJ at Crew – goodness only knows what I’d be doing there right now if it wasn’t for the pandemic - I mean, I was learning how to mix, and I’d have probably near enough mastered that now, so I wonder what else I would be doing!
I was also, every two months, DJ-ing at The Atik for events with an organization called Get2gether, and I do that off the laptop via an app called Virtual DJ. Of course, for now, get-togethers are not gonna be able to happen at The Atik until, at least Christmas either, – nightclubs also aren’t allowed to open right now, we are just doing it live on Zoom and having it every month instead, but, unfortunately, for the first three months of lockdown, I wasn’t actually able to DJ at any of the events as I didn’t really have any equipment of my own at home to do DJ-ing.
I had applied for a grant from the ILF to receive DJ-ing equipment during lockdown and the application was successful, and I received the equipment. To DJ on Zoom, I have a laptop, I play music via Virtual DJ, and share the computer sound. I’ve been practicing DJ-ing a lot at home now that I have this equipment.
Also before the pandemic, every Tuesday, I would go to a local community radio station called SAM Radio where I play music live: even though, the pandemic is dying down a bit, they still understandably don’t feel too safe about opening up, so we’re doing podcasts at the moment instead, which has certainly been a great experience all the same. I had never recorded a podcast before; on the plus side the pandemic has encouraged me to try a lot of new things.
At the moment, there are queues of people everywhere in Edinburgh, even though I have only been in town once since the pandemic (it was for the department of magic, a Harry Potter themed place with the escape rooms where you have to do puzzles and stuff, like making potions e.g. to escape, that was as a birthday celebration as I turned 22 a few weeks ago.) But, yeah it was a lot of fun; was a bit difficult but of course I managed to get there in the end and I guess I can officially say I’m now a wizard!"
Following on from our post at the start of the lockdown, where we heard from some of the Glasgow Youth Ambassadors first impressions of the current situation, we spoke to a couple of our Edinburgh members, Dylan and Ivy to see how they were finding it.
Dylan talked to us about his initial feelings of lockdown and how things changed as the weeks went on;
"Well, at least during the isolation I suppose was nice not rushing around to go to appointments, or commitments of any other kind. I mean, don't get me wrong: I enjoy DJ'ing at The ATIK, DJ'ing at Crew, working with Impact Arts, and helping out with the events in general, and all my other commitments, but as you can see, I have quite a lot on, and it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and disorienting! When you have all these places to go it can be quite frankly a bit exhausting. So it was good to have a bit of a break at least and try to adapt to life indoors; I mean, it seems to be helping calm down the entire coronavirus pandemic anyway…
Equally, though it is kind of frustrating that our commitments have been cancelled because of the coronavirus, but it makes us realise that it could be worse. I'm still certainly preparing myself for when I return to any of these commitments when the coronavirus dies down, which I should have plenty time for anyway. Talking of which, with self-isolation, it has kind of helped encourage me to try and work on things I usually probably wouldn't have enough time for, so that's one positive thing I suppose. I've been working a bit more on the things I’m passionate about, like aspects of art and creativity, music in particular.
I’m still keeping in touch with Get2gether during isolation, and we are already discussing the ideas for the next event at the ATIK – We’ve also been discussing what we can do in the meantime, and I'm preparing myself for the next event as well. I’ve also been lyric writing (i.e. for raps), and just generally listening to music and looking to discover new types of music, drawing, script-writing, character-design, etc.
I hope everyone is keeping safe - stay indoors unless you’re going out for essential reasons."
Ivy also talked to us about her experiences at the start of the lockdown and how she is feeling more recently;
"How would I describe my first few weeks of lockdown? In a word… disheartening. I was keeping safe, staying inside, and going online to make new friends. But I very quickly learned that this was nothing more than an endless vacuum that systematically sucked away my happiness. It was only after letting go that I finally realised what I was missing… my real friends. But genuine friends that I could rely and depend upon. Who I love and care for deeply. Who I knew genuinely cared when I had a problem.
Let us fast-forward to week 8 of lockdown. Tim shares his screen on Discord as we sit around playing Jackbox Tv. We laugh as Chris puts funny answers down in Quiplash. Cringe at the difficulty of the questions on Trivia Murder Party. Well, I say difficulty. We know the answers, however, it is a bit hard to answer correctly when you have been forced to cut a finger off as a part of a Penalty Game. Particularly when that is the one needed for correctly imputing Tanzania. But it was a communal struggle, shared by all those gathering here this day, endeavouring to crush one another and be the last one standing… as we friends always do. It felt amazing. We weren’t in the same room obviously, but hearing each of us as we laughed, cheered, and threw shady comments at one another, warmed my heart. Gave me hope that I will see them again soon, smiley, happy and safe.
Though lockdown has been far from easy – it has been challenging, anxiety-inducing and frustrating in equal measure – it would have been far worse not having friends, family and loved ones there to support me. So, to my friends, I say thank you. Know that you have my love and I will always be there to support you.
To everyone reading this at home; stay safe and know that you are never alone. If you ever need a friend or someone to talk to, please know you have a friend in me!"
Kyle is a member of the ‘Sketchy Youths’ group of Impact Arts young ambassadors. Rosa is a trustee of Impact Arts, and works with the ‘Sketchy Youths’ to represent their voices to the board and gain an insight into the experience of young people who have been through Impact Arts programmes. Recently, Kyle and Rosa had a conversation over Zoom about life in lockdown, differing experiences of Covid-19 and the challenges these bring.
Rosa: How are you finding the lockdown generally and what has changed in your daily life
Kyle: A lot has changed. Life is more stressful in a way. I have to rely on my stepdad more, for things like getting to the shops, and for a sense of security. The lockdown has made my days long and boring. It’s like everything is on pause. Normally I would go out to see my friends, or a walk, or go for a nice meal out or something, but can’t do any of that now.
How are you finding keeping up with people: have you been able to chat with friends or has that been a bit difficult?
To be honest I’ve heard a lot from friends that I’m not normally in touch with very regularly. We’re don’t normally speak that often but now I’ve heard more from them than the people I would usually see.
I’ve found that as well actually, that older friends are having lots of catch ups but the people I see every day are more difficult to contact because we’re not used to having to have contact in that kind of way.
I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your visual impairment and how that normally impacts you on a day-today basis.
It’s hard to describe, but I can see the chair in front of me and I can see the outline but that’s about as far as I can see, and the rest of it is just quite blurry. If I go out and there’s any kind of sign or a menu or something I’ll ask someone else to read it for me, or I use my phone to take a picture of something and then I can look at the photo of it. I’ve grown up with it so in a way I am used to it.
Do you think that having a visual impairment has had an additional impact on how you’re experiencing the lockdown?
Well I’ve got a cane that I sometimes use, so I usually go for a walk with it when I’m out of the area I know really well. I go out and train with it for when I’m out of Kilmarnock so I can get used to it. It’s hard because I’ve been trying to go out to different locations but now I can only stay in one location or not go out at all, so I have chosen to not go out at all. I would find it hard to judge the distance between myself and others, so the 2 metre apart rule would be really hard to deal with. Before the lockdown I was getting more independent, but since it’s happened I’m more reliant on other folk. I can still do the stuff I have always done inside the house but it’s anything outside that has had the biggest impact.
Lots of the ways people are doing things now have moved towards online technology, we’re doing this over Zoom obviously. Is there any of that technology that you struggle to use or access.
I’m generally fine with all that stuff. But I find online stuff can be more iffy, with everyone using the internet all the time the system gets overwhelmed.
I guess maybe that could be a positive thing then. I was thinking that maybe for people who struggle with mobility and such, organisations allowing more working from home could end up being a good thing for some people. Do you think your experience, being partially sighted, is quite different than that of someone with no sight?
Yeah, my mum has no sight so I see how it has affected her more. She just recently got a guide dog but she’s finding it hard to go out with it now. She was getting taught how to learn different technology, like phones and computers but obviously that has stopped now.
To me it seems like that’s what’s been missing from a lot of the advice and rules given out, is how people with different or more complicated needs are meant to follow guidance or what allowances may be made.
I know that the support for the NHS is great, but it feels like people aren’t supporting those with other challenges, like mobility issues. It’s first come first served, so some people with disabilities can’t get what they need, and the same with elderly people. The timetables for the buses have changed and that makes it difficult for people who rely on those services.
If we’re thinking about all these challenges, loss of independence and so on, is there anything that you would suggest to someone in a similar position to you, and how have you been getting through it?
I’ve been doing things like playing the Xbox to help me cope and pass the time, because it gets me out of reality. And I think video games can be a bit educational. I’ve been playing Minecraft, Call of Duty and Assassins Creed.
But I also try to keep in touch with my family more than I used to. I’m calling my mum a few times a day. I used to visit them a couple of times a week but now for safety reasons I can’t.
And for anyone who reads this who doesn’t have any experience personally of living with an additional need or some sort of challenge, is there anything that you would want people to do or try to understand?
Just be mindful really, ask if people need help.
Yes I think people need to be forgiving and not assume the worst, when they see people who might need additional support or additional resources. Is there anything you hope we take away or learn from this lockdown?
Keeping in touch, especially people you’d lost contact with and reconnected with recently.
You can find out more about the Sketchy Youths here.
The Impact Arts youth ambassadors, the Sketchy Youths were due to meet for their monthly meetup at the beginning of April, but since the whole of the UK is in lockdown they held the meeting via video call and had a full house, even welcoming their newest member Alishia to the group! They took some time to check in with each other and share experiences with being at home so far, and had some chat about how they could move forward as a group during this time.
The group have been writing personal bios and formatting their page on the Impact Arts website which can be found here. They are also working on their own mini projects over the next few weeks, keep an eye out for more updates on that coming soon!
The Sketchy Youths, including our youth trustee Rosa, all wrote a few lines here about how the lockdown has been for them so far and wanted to share this with the Impact Arts team and beyond. Here’s what they had to say in their own words:
Approaching this quarantine I knew that I didn’t want to be stuck in my flat alone, so instead I moved home and my family threw itself back into family close quarters, with six of us now under the same roof. We are incredibly lucky. We live in a quiet town with a garden for outdoor space, and I am so grateful for this. But I am still scared. Selfishly, I’m worried for the future of my job, but of course more widely for people I care about and the broader picture. The future is all looking a little unsure.
My family have been reinstating some childhood traditions to see us through. We’ve been playing games and putting on semi-joking performances (mostly singing rewrites of songs with covid-related lyrics). I have been trying to do a few things I complain that I never have time for, like painting and sewing, but it is difficult to get the motivation and inspiration needed. I have found that getting started is half the battle. Project Ability have been running challenges on their social media which are really fun and easy to get involved with. So far the challenges have been self-portraits and still life, and this week’s is Manga/Superhero. I'd really recommend giving them a go- why not!
I've found that the days been are beginning to feel longer and repetitive. I've been trying to fill my time with playing on the Xbox but now that's getting boring so I've looked out my old white bored and I’m gonna try and write some motivational pieces of spoken word. I visit my family once a week so I don’t feel lonely but I do because it’s through a window, I see them for their protection and mine. These times are hard and trying, but I know we will prevail through it.
I feel as if it's hard to deal with something like this especially if you are someone that was always out the house doing something, it's a big change to deal with and not many people talk about it. The days do feel like they are getting longer and more of a struggle. What I do is I sit in my room on my bed, put my headphones in and just sit and have time away from looking at screens and family, just having time to relax. I also write everything I feel in my notes and FaceTime my friends so I have contact with other people.
My family are not the most tight knit but we’re trying to make it work at home- from giving each other space when we need it and giving a hand when someone else needs it. That may not sound revolutionary but for a lot of households, staying calm and collected is an achievement.
That’s my goal really- to stay calm and collected. It’s the strategy that got me through my exams and a trip down a cliff- here’s hoping it helps here too.
While I’m taking my no- college and no-volunteering lockdown one day at a time I know there are other people taking on a lot more. Local business’ and individuals reaching out just to help and stay connected is so important and valued, along with the work of our care and supply providers. Here’s hoping when this is all over we can continue to see the intrinsic value of each and every life different from ours, along with the work others put in to keep the world going every day.
Things haven’t changed much for me as I'm still working with the horses, they still need to be fed so I have a bit of routine. Getting the train has been really different though as the conductors are not coming up and down trains anymore and people are keeping a 2 meter distance getting on and off the train and on the platform. There are also always police at Central Station.
I've had to ride with a different mentality - there are more people around when I'm out on my horse and they're wanting to pet the horse so it's hard to keep a distance. I feel really lucky as if I didn't have the horses I'd be at home 24-7 - I don’t want to think about that - I'd go insane.
I do have some college work to do but it's too easy for level 5 so I'm a bit concerned. I need to build a website with 4 pages but I'm finding it hard to get motivated since I'm not going into college and trying to do my college work online. It's a big challenge.
What truly open and honest words from everyone! Alishia even added; ‘BTW I know we haven't met properly but if anyone needs someone to talk to I am always here ’ showing fantastic support to the rest of the group. We hope that by continuing to connect and support each other through this challenging time we will get through it together.
In this section
The team at Impact Arts work hard to secure over £1.5m of funding per year to provide life changing creative experiences for more than 5000 people.
You can help us achieve this target through making a single gift, or a regular donation. Thank you.