COVID-19 and the Down’s Syndrome Association. Supporting our community during challenging times.

We don’t often use words like ‘urgent’ or ‘crisis’. Normally our work is offering continuous support rather than responding to an emergency that has affected the whole world. We rely on steady, regular donations from people like you to offer an ongoing service.

This is different however. We need your help now.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive effect on the Down’s syndrome community. Children and adults who have Down’s syndrome can be especially vulnerable to the virus. Demand for our services has increased hugely with people looking for advice and support to the extent that calls to our Helpline are up by 40%.

At this critical time, our regular income streams have halved. Due to the current restrictions, income has fallen both from individuals and organisations, plus, the cancellation of vital fund-raising events such as the London Marathon has hit us hard.

These are challenging times for everyone but even more so for people who have Down’s syndrome. The usual rhythm of life has been disrupted without warning, leaving feelings of isolation, anxiety and frustration. Many have additional health conditions affecting respiratory and cardiac health. It can be hard to understand social-distancing and many have difficulty communicating how they are feeling if they become unwell, mentally and physically.

In normal times, people who have Down’s syndrome benefit from routine. In March, people’s school, work, day services and community-based activities halted overnight. Suddenly people found themselves spending long periods confined at home, separated from their friends and colleagues.

How we are responding.

Our prime focus has been on making support and information accessible to everyone who needs it, both those who have Down’s syndrome and their parents and carers.

At the forefront is our Helpline & Information service who are receiving a huge number of requests for help. People are looking for help and reassurance, as well as for practical information on a wide variety of subjects including pregnancy, education, communication, support for adults, emotional well-being, benefits and changes to the way our schools, colleges and health and social care services are operating.

The other key source of information is our website. Here we regularly share the latest news and there is a dedicated section where people can easily access accurate information and advice.

‘Thank you for keeping us updated…it’s good to be able to come here for advice and suggestions’.

‘I’m just so relieved to have someone else on board with me fighting this….’

We are helping people to stay connected in lots of new and innovative ways. There is a real danger that people who have Down’s syndrome can become isolated during lockdown so we have set up ways for young people and adults to connect with each other and tell us how we can support them.

Importantly, we are determined to ensure that people who have Down’s syndrome are not forgotten by government and policy makers at a time when decisions are being made at speed. Our role is to ensure that their voice is heard.

So why do we need more help?

We are currently meeting the demand but we need your help so that we can carry on delivering our services as the need for them continues to increase.

  • 1. We must maintain our Helpline & Information service. We simply cannot afford to miss a call.
  • 2. Training for carers, families and professionals has moved online. We quickly need to develop new virtual training to allow our work to continue.
  • 3. Now, more than ever, we must support new families. At least 300 babies who have Down’s syndrome will be born in the next few months and this will be a particularly anxious time for their families. We must be there for them.

If you can help, please make a donation. We know that this is a difficult time for everybody and there are many calls on your generosity. If you can make a donation to our appeal, you will be helping us to keep vital services operating.

Please call us on 0333 121 2300 to make a donation, visit our Virgin Money Giving Page or text CV19DSA to 70085 to donate £10*.

Thank you again for your support.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Boys,

*Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £10 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text CV19DSANOINFO to 70085.