At the beginning of the year, The Lawnmowers premièred the movie that we’ve been working on. I wrote about how it came about here if you want to know that story. Today, I want to do two things. First, to share this brilliant, funny, moving film, which is as good a piece of community art as I’ve been involved in. If you’re stuck at home with not much to do, please take half an hour to watch it. If you’re stuck at home with too much to do, maybe take a break and give yourself a treat. I promise you’ll feel differently after watching it.
The other thing I want to do is say something about what The Lawnmowers are doing now. They’re at home. About 100 members attend the Lawnmowers Centre in Gateshead each week, making music, lunch, theatre, friends, hip hop, dance, tea and much, much more. The centre a cornerstone of their lives and now, it’s closed. Living through the epidemic is hard enough at the best of times. If you have learning difficulties you might face real problems just knowing how to stay safe, how to explain to care staff how you feel, or getting the treatment you want. Depending on your living circumstances, social distancing might mean social isolation, with serious practical and emotional consequences. The Lawnmowers centre is closed, but the Lawnmowers team, staff, freelance artists and volunteers have been doing everything to people connected, active and creative. It’s not easy – everyone has been learning how to go online, how to be safe, how to manage their time. But it’s been exciting too – and now they have a programme called ‘Remote Controlled Lawnmowers’. If you want to get a sense of how people with learning difficulties are dealing with lockdown, watch this video – it’s a lot of fun.