A big congratulations to four Edinburgh residents who have gained a new qualification during lockdown!

Paul McShane, Debbie Ann Muir, Naomi White and Esra Aydinli have been working hard throughout the pandemic. Realising the importance of physical exercise, they completed Borders College units in Health and Fitness, and are the first people in Scotland to complete this course online.

A collage of four people standing in front of their front doors holding a blue folder containing a certificate

L-R Paul McShane, Debbie Ann Muir, Naomi White, Esra Aydinli

Paul, Debbie, Naomi and Esra were supported to achieve these qualifications by the Stay Connected Team. Stay Connected was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for people with a learning disability.  It support adults with a learning disability to maintain and build skills and independence, as well as maintaining and developing friendships, and feel safe and valued whilst staying safe in their own communities. By participating in on-line activities and engaging with peers, people feeling accepted and valued as part of a peer group and hopefully within the wider digital and physical communities.

Diane Gilhooly, Business Skills Advisor, Department of Enterprise and Business Innovation at Borders College said:

Borders College is delighted to be working with Stay Connected on our Skills Accreditation Programme which supports students/service users to gain skills for life, work and leisure. The last year has been difficult for everyone and it is so good to be able to support services like Stay Connected and observe the amazing work carried out by them and the ways they have adapted to enable their service users to thrive.

Congratulations to Paul, Naomi, Esra and Debbie Ann on their achievements – you have done incredibly well and I hope the Skills Accreditation Programme will inspire you all to continue to grow and develop.

We also spoke to some of the family and carers of the people who completed the course.

The digital support service has helped to provide a shape and routine to Naomi’s weekdays, enabling her to make new friends and participate in many activities that she would have opted out of in her day centre.

The Borders College online process has worked very smoothly for Naomi. She has enjoyed doing the health and fitness activities online (Zumba and boogie group), loved being photographed exercising to provide evidence of her achievements and was very keen to answer questions for each assessment.

Mr Tosh White

This Border College course has been really good for Paul. As you are aware, he is not the most active of people but since he started this course, he has become much more aware of the benefits of exercise.

He really got involved in the Tuesday Zumba class and gets on the exercise bike here at home. He also is aware of the benefits of walking to the shops every day, albeit at a slow pace, but it is still 30-40 minutes of exercise and is talking about going back to the gym when your activities start back again!

All in all, it has been of great benefit to Paul

Mr Eddie McShane 

What can I say about my daughter Deborah-Ann’s achievement in getting a Border College Certificate.

Very well done and so so proud of her and the family are also.

From going from four and a half days a week to nothing was a tremendous change in her life both physically and mentally but Stay Connected came out shining with the very hard work of staff members working out how to do virtual courses for the clients full marks to them they deserve a gold star .

My daughter has benefitted from this experience immensely especially in the mental frame of things, God only knows what would have been like if she had had nothing.

Deborah-Ann is so looking forward to doing more Border College Courses.

Mrs Ann Muir

To find out more about the Partnerships learning disability services, you can visit our learning disability pages