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This month we donned our festive jumpers, hats and tinsel garlands to share a bit of festive cheer, encouragement and mutual support.

The Support Collective brings together diverse voices with different lived experience. This year it has been more vital than ever to come together remotely, and where possible in person, to share the load of some of the challenges we have faced through Covid-19 and find ways to move forward with our learning.

We started the morning by introducing ourselves and sharing something we were looking forward to over the Christmas break. The list included visits to light displays, gameboard marathons, posh nibbles, Dolly Parton’s new musical Christmas movie and more. All plans suggesting that this Christmas is shaping up to be a markedly quiet one with many hunkering down and spending time with those closest. This sentiment has of course been the reality for many this year, from those long-term shielding, depending on support bubbles to individuals experiencing isolation and struggling to maintain professional support.

Support Collective festive meet-up 2020
Support Collective online meet-up, December 2020

Here’s a round-up from our meet-up. The next online meet-ups will be on Tuesday 19th January 10:30-11:30am for a Children and Young People focussed session and Wednesday 27th January, 11am – 12pm for a session welcoming adults with complex support needs and their families and carers. For links to join the Zooms email [email protected]

Looking after ourselves over the festive period and beyond

A member of the Support Collective talked about needing time to put themselves first and fill their own cup after spending so much of their life making sure other people’s cups were full. This feeling was shared by the group and conversation turned to self-care. We discussed the various ways you can practice mindfulness and what may be best suited to each individual; visualisation, breathwork, drawing, keeping a journal, are all various methods you can use when meditating and unwinding.

One member, who has been shielding for the majority of the year whilst also facing challenges in maintaining their care and support package, mentioned that simply looking outside to take notice of the trees through the changing seasons for 5 minutes helped him recalibrate and find some calm.

For resources to support you and your family’s wellbeing visit our Covid-19 Wellbeing and Activities Resources:

Carers Rights

Finding time for yourself means having respite away from caring responsibilities. If you provide any form of unpaid care you are entitled to a carers assessment under the Care Act 2014. For more information on your rights as a carer visit:

A useful template letter requesting a carers assessment from the Local Authority can be downloaded here: SC30 Request carer’s assessment under section 10 of the Care Act

A template to ask for an Adult Social Care needs assessment for the person you care for who lacks capacity can be downloaded here: SC9 Request needs assessment for a person lacking capacity

If you need urgent support

For food and urgent practical help, Hastings Borough Council Community Hub are operating normal service with out of hours cover over the Christmas bank holidays. Emergency food packages will be available through Hastings Borough Council for those in urgent need.

Hastings Covid-19 Community Support Hotline

Do you or does someone you know need help? Residents of Hastings and St Leonards, or their friends, family or carers, can contact Hastings Borough Council on a special helpline: 01424 451019, open 9am – 5pm Monday – Thursday, 9am – 4.30 pm Friday.

More info and an online form for non-urgent enquiries is available here:

Hastings Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) 

Hastings Emergency Action Response Team (HEART) is the registered Mutual Aid Group for Hastings & St.Leonards, providing a broad range of practical support for people in need during the Coronavirus crisis. For more information or to request help please visit

Resources to support parent carers and support workers

Hear from parents about how they felt when their child received their autism diagnosis:

Amaze – information, advice and support to families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) up to 25 in Brighton & Hove and Sussex. Amaze are offering a helpline for information and advice open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 2.30pm. Call 01273772289

Upcoming events and training:

Value Based Recruitment with Independent Lives, Tuesday 26th January, 10:30am – 12:30pm

This session is an opportunity to explore Values Based Recruiting and how it might help with recruitment of PAs.

Support Collective online meet-up, Wednesday 27th January, 11am – 12pm

Email [email protected] for a link to join the Zoom

Free Zoom presentation on Decision Making, including the Mental Capacity Act, Powers of Attorney and the Court of Protection with Renaissance Legal, Wednesday 10th February 2021, 10:00 – 11:15am

For more information on Basic First Aid, Medication Administration, Safeguarding Adults, Infection Control and Autism training for family employers and support workers, visit:

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