Southend On-Line 49

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Project description

On-Line 49 is a Facebook based ‘virtual’ service for people with learning disabilities. There are a range of activities throughout the week which are interactive.

What was your response to Covid-19?

‘Social distanced, not socially isolated’ is key; as soon as Southend realised that project 49 would be closed because of the lockdown we knew that if we wanted to keep the folk who attend Project 49 during the Covid 19 crisis we had to be innovative in our approach. We quickly moved much of the service online and created a Facebook group called ‘Keep in Touch’.

What was different about this approach?

A lot of the content is ‘live’ and interactive as opposed to just watching recorded content which is quite passive. The group although initially was for the people who attended Project 49 is now open to people who do not usually attend. We have had people who attend other day services become active members and have been hosting live Zoom meetings with new friends in New Zealand.

The use of Zoom, which can be broadcast live on Facebook is the latest addition to the programme and adds another layer of interaction to the programme.

What is the impact and benefit for people?

  • Offers a virtual one-stop shop for active engagement
  • A dynamic and agile model of delivering a service.
  • Enables respite for families and carers within the home environment
  • Reduces the likelihood of breakdown in relationships / placements at home.
  • Reduces isolation and offers a sense of engagement with a wider community and creating new forms of community, friendships and common interests.
  • Supports good health outcome / reduces health inequality e.g. via active engagement with Community Dentistry and G.P specialist (Taz Syed)
  • Supports pathways into other services, for example supported employment
  • Increases peoples’ skills sets and strength-based assets.
  • Increases people’s confidence and capability to use technology
  • Breaks down barriers between people with LD and wider communities

Case studies:

Case study 1:  During COVID MB was keeping a more nocturnal routine with gaming until late into the night and staying in bed to well into the afternoon.  MB was introduced to the Facebook ‘Keeping InTouch’ page and once discovered MB found some purpose to get up if he wanted to catch certain activities and comment and respond.  (MB) has continued to engage with the various activities and sessions that he likes and has commented that he can do this every day whereas he is only entitled to two days of service so has more opportunities to join in.  (MB)’s mother has found that for him to engage and have a focus has eased some of the tensions that have been building at home

Case study 2:  The Facebook ‘Keeping in Touch’ group was introduced and a particular member of staff realised the importance of this for LP and AC. She would support them to take part in activities especially music and more gentle exercise sessions. The member of staff would ask LP & AC for their comments about the sessions and post these to the page increasing their engagement and interaction.  She would also take videos of the ladies and post these to the Facebook page which served to further engage the ladies as they then saw themselves represented there.

Case study 3:  During the COVID pandemic and the closure of the Project 49 service, welfare calls were commenced with (KB) living with his brother who was required to work from home and so when the Facebook ‘Keeping in touch’ group was introduced this gave particular focus to (KB) and enabled his brother to work in the knowledge that (KB) was getting relevant and appropriate input that was tailored to his needs and gave him a chance to feel connected to people. 


Is the solution sustainable post Covid-19?

Yes, as this is part of: 

A universal offer to the community which engages with a wider range of people:

  • People within the LD community who present a wide range of social and psychological needs.
  • Older people with learning disability and associated conditions such as dementia.
  • People with more complex needs.
  • People in transitions to adult services.
  • Families and carers.
  • People who cannot access the community e.g. due to anxiety, ill health and mobility.

A relationship which is ‘on demand’, active / passive; intimate; and ongoing.

  • Developing a broader range of strength-based activities e.g. work prep; computer skills; money skills
  • Extending past the hours of ‘normal / traditional’ hours of service.
  • Expanding the use of technology to encompass Zoom, You Tube, to be more live and interactive.
  • Widening engagement with community groups/ assets/ providers to support the platform.
  • Co-producing with stakeholders particularly people with LD, families.
  • Transforming the way individual packages of care are commissioned.
  • Informing commissioning strategy through virtual outreach.


More information

Project 49 Facebook Group

 Contact Project 49 directly on 01702 212434 or email