Mayor's medal joy for Burnley group that supports adults with learning disabilities and autism

The resilience shown throughout the pandemic by members of a Burnley based project, that supports adults with learning disabilities and autism, has earned them a coveted award.

Team Rise has received a Mayor s Medal for staying strong and connected during the past year, despite the group having to close for over six months, which left many of the members lonely and isolated as they went from taking part in a range of social and fun activities five days a week to nothing.

CEO Sharon Lees said: "It was such a difficult time for all of us and I personally missed the gang dreadfully."

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Relying on fund raising activities, donations and grants to keep going Sharon tried various ways to keep everyone connected through Zoom, Skype and virtual weekly meetings.

Sharon Lees (second from left) with Team Rise supporters and the Mayor of Burnley Lord Khan at the medal presentation ceremony

Once allowed to meet outdoors members gathered in parks, on canals and at countryside locations, anywhere they could be safe and remain socially distanced.

Sharon added: "A few of our members live completely alone and, in those cases, we literally went and stood in their backyards to speak to them.

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"It was difficult but at least we maintained contact and helped each other get through such an impossible situation."

Nominated for the Mayor's Medal for 'having gone above and beyond help others in the community' was just the boost members needed as things slowly get back to normal.

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Sharon went along to the Mayor's parlour to receive the medal with member Jonathan Drinkwater and John Hamer and Sonia Greenwood who are Team Rise supporters. The medal was presented to them by the Mayor Lord Wajid Khan, performing one of his last duties before he stepped down from office.

Sharon added: "It was a lovely morning and The Mayor of Burnley made us all feel very welcome.

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"Being able to do what we have done during the pandemic has been a privilege and hopefully made a difficult time a little easier for our lovely members.

"It highlights just how resilient our members are and how well they all coped during the pandemic."