A PROGRAMME to help people with autism and learning difficulties stay active and creative through summer has launched in the Tees Valley.

The Creative Couch Tees Valley is a free programme for people aged 18 and over with a learning disability or autism living in the Tees Valley area.

Running fortnightly from August 31 to October 2020, pre-recorded content that people can join in with, such as dance, drama, singing or arts and crafts, will be available online or posted to participants via DVD as approximately 20 per cent of people with a learning disability or who are autistic do not have online access.

Creative Couch, created as direct result of lockdown, is run by TIN Arts which runs various project in the North-East, bringing people to benefit from the physical and mental wellbeing associated with being active and creative - something the organisation wanted to continue doing through lockdown.

Creative Couch was first funded by County Durham Community Foundation as part of their emergency Covid-19 fund and was delivered across County Durham from April to June.

Tees Valley Sport have now stepped in and helped TIN Arts access funding from Sport England to start the same project in Tees Valley.

Martin Wilson, executive director of TIN Arts said: "The Creative Couch programme is all about reaching out to some of the most vulnerable members of our community at a very difficult time.

"It's really important we all work together to look after each other and so we are delighted that over 50 people with a learning disability or autism and their families have joined us on the programme to be active and creative so far.

"The feedback has been amazing and we are very grateful to both the County Durham Community Foundation and Tees Valley Sport for enabling this to happen through funding and support.

"The Creative Couch continues to run and we encourage anybody with a learning disability or autism to get in touch and sign up now."