“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!”

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.