A MALVERN-based charity that helps people who have communication, eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties has revealed how it has kept operating during the covid outbreak.

The Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral Skills (ARCOS), which has been based in the town since the early 1990s, promotes and provides specialist training, therapy and support for people with these issues, as well as disabilities resulting from brain injuries.

Its work has had to change during lockdown, with training sessions now being held via video-link.

Fundraising activities, which provide a vital lifeline for the charity’s survival, have also been affected.

Founder and director Kay Coombes said: “It has been a challenge for us, like everyone, to deal with the new conditions.

“We’ve rapidly had to get used to working via Zoom or Microsoft Teams to help our clients, many of whom have physical and cognitive disabilities.

Among the activities that have had to be curtailed include the Smile on Sunday, which normally meets at the ARCOS headquarters in Avenue Road.

“The children who attend Smile on Sunday include many who are on the autistic spectrum and it’s hard for them to grasp why they can no longer come and meet their friends and play on the lawns here.” said Mrs Coombes.

ARCOS also provides training for professionals including doctors, therapists, nurses and teachers, and has an equipment loan library, which ranges from communication devices to saddle-seated wheelchairs.

Among the charity’s fundraising events to be hit by the lockdown are its regular quiz night, which normally takes place at the Bluebell Inn, Barnard’s Green, but which has now been forced to move on line.

Mrs Coombes said: “ARCOS is not a private clinic. We depend upon charitable grants and donations to maintain a high quality of service.

We charge fees for assessment, therapy and training services. but a great deal of information and advice is provided free of charge.

“We work in collaboration with the NHS and other organisations working directly with clients and with their families.

“We are grateful to all our supporters, including Worcestershire Community Foundation, who have provided us with grants totalling £7,500 to enable us to continue supporting our clients during the covid crisis.”

Anyone who wants to help ARCOS can contact the organisation on 01684 576795 or admin@arcos.org.uk.