Fratton Community Centre sees learning disability social club Pathways Support reform after being hit 'very hard' by Covid-19

AFTER a year of tragedy and bereavement, a social club is once again bringing together people with learning disabilities together from across the city.

From left, support worker Nicola Simmons, Chris O'Carroll and Rhinel Djemo working on their dance moves. Pathways Support for adults with learning disabilities has reopened at Fratton Community Centre
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 290721-28)
From left, support worker Nicola Simmons, Chris O'Carroll and Rhinel Djemo working on their dance moves. Pathways Support for adults with learning disabilities has reopened at Fratton Community Centre Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 290721-28)

The Pathways Support Thursday Social Club has returned with music from a DJ and the sound of laughter after the regular meet-up was postponed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The club, taking place in the Fratton Community Centre, has been hard hit by the loss of several members and members’ relatives who have died from Covid-19, according to Pathways Support staff.

With Covid-19 restrictions proving distressing for some attendees, the company decided to postpone the club’s reopening until everyone could once again socialise as they did before the pandemic, according to the support businesses owner, Susan Goodbrand.

Janice Gribben. Pathways Support for adults with learning disabilities has reopened at Fratton Community Centre Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 290721-27)

Susan, who has run Pathways Support for 11 years, said: ‘It’s fantastic news for people who visit. Obviously the lockdown has been particularly difficult for people with a learning disability...and everyone is really pleased to be back.

‘Social isolation for people with a learning disability has been worse than people realise.

‘People with a learning disability can live very isolated lives any way – and the pandemic has made this worse.’

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Pathways Support for adults with learning disabilities has reopened at Fratton Community Centre Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 290721-26)

For club attendee Natalie Lane, coming back together with friends from across the city was a welcome relief after a ‘very hard’ 18 months.

The 34-year-old said: ‘I have been worried about my family. My brother passed away and because of Covid, we couldn’t do a proper funeral. I was really down. I wasn’t in a good place.’

But the easing of restrictions and the reopening of the club left the club regular feeling more hopeful for the future.

Glen Tyler joins in with the dancing. Pathways Support for adults with learning disabilities has reopened at Fratton Community Centre Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 290721-31)

She said: ‘I’ve had a very good time. I hope we’re out of the pandemic now.’

Now Pathways Support, which runs six supported living houses across the city, hopes to offer further opportunities for people with a learning disability by taking on the community centre’s Chit Chat Cafe from next week.

Running it as a commercial business, Susan said: ‘It will give service users the opportunity to develop work place skills.

‘It will be very exciting.’

Glen Tyler says cheerio to support worker Nicola Simmons. Pathways Support for adults with learning disabilities has reopened at Fratton Community Centre Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 290721-32)

Pathways Support Thursday Club is open to anyone who wishes to attend, with entry and three complimentary drinks costing £7.50, with free admission for support workers.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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