To tackle isolation and keep its customers connected during the coronavirus lockdown, a leading North East autism support provider joined forces with superstar DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, to host an exclusive virtual gig on its new activity portal.
Inspired Support, based in Newcastle with services across Tyne & Wear, is an independent organisation supporting people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and learning disabilities through bespoke educational activities in the digital, sport and creative industries.
Committed to keeping its support activities open to more than 100 hundred service users, Inspired Support has taken its operations online using Zoom to provide a safe, sociable learning environment to avoid difficult isolation at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fatboy Slim, English DJ, musician and record producer with global hits including ‘Praise You’ and ‘Weapon of Choice’, is a long-standing friend of Inspired Support. He helped them to celebrate the launch of the portal with a live ‘lockdown’ gig from his seaside home in Brighton, followed by a Q&A session.
Dave Winship, director at Inspired Support, said: “As soon as we heard about the possibility of a Covid-19 lockdown we wanted to ensure all our customers could stay in touch and continue to access our services.
“Moving online presented some technical challenges initially, mainly around logistics and ensuring everyone had computer and internet access. To get the portal up and running is a fantastic achievement. It allows us to keep delivering vital learning and social activities online for as long as necessary.
“We understand these are challenging, uncertain times for everyone and being separated from friends and family is extremely difficult. That is why we are determined Inspired Support should always be there to help bring people together, beat loneliness and spread a little happiness.
“Getting Norman to join us on the portal was a blast! Some of the group taking part are developing skills in the creative and digital sectors, including music production. They couldn’t believe they were bantering with Fatboy Slim and watching him live in his spare room!”
Inspired Support offers four service environments designed to ensure that people who are on the autism spectrum or have learning difficulties can develop their talents, social and life skills to achieve success and future employment.
Norman Cook, Fatboy Slim, said: “We’ve had weeks of lockdown and I’ve only managed a couple of pub quizzes! Inspired Support has been way more creative with the time in creating this lovely little online community. It is inspiring to me and brings a sense of togetherness. I’m looking forward to doing it again soon.”
Service user Mark Urwin took part in the session, he said: “Inspired Support is making me feel positive and motivated during lockdown because of the regular online sessions.
“The socialising is great and it feels like I’m still there and not stuck in isolation. They’re still giving me tasks to keep me focused and I’m able to continue developing my graphic design skills because they supplied me with an iMac, something not many support groups would do for their clients.
“Meeting Fat Boy Slim and taking part in the Q&A was great. Norman kindly answered my question about how music can influence our mental health, which was a great insight for me.”
Directors Dave Winship and Richard Lamb created Inspired Support in 2012. The organisation is designed to provide a modern and holistic, person-centred approach to learning, which enables people to thrive and achieve success independently. It runs training and an education courses for people aged 16 years upwards at it centres in Newcastle, Gateshead and Birtley.