Partner profile: Pyramid

Pyramid is an inclusive arts collective working with people with learning disabilities and autistic people in Leeds. Pyramid also plays a lead role in driving digital inclusion for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

Since 2021, Pyramid has hosted an Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator who works with organisations supporting people with learning disabilities across the city, building their capacity to support digital inclusion for their members. The Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator facilitates the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network (ALaDDIN) which brings together organisations to embed digital inclusion support within their service offers for people with learning disabilities and autistic people. Pyramid also hosts a consultation group of people with lived experience whose thoughts and opinions inform the work of the Coordinator.

Most recently, through schemes such as Multiply, Pyramid has worked with members to support their digital skills, confidence, and connectivity for increased employability and financial resilience in the face of the cost of living increase.


Pyramid has over 30 years of experience working with autistic people and people with learning disabilities. They support their members to build their skills and confidence and to advocate for themselves. 

Pyramid use art activities as a tool to engage members with digital activities in creative and engaging ways. They support their members to use a variety of digital equipment, supporting some of those furthest away from digital inclusion to embrace digital.

Pyramid support their members to make art in a wide variety of mediums and display their work in exhibitions and public spaces all over Leeds. They do this through collaborative art groups, including a programme for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), as well as providing one-on-one creative support and professional development opportunities. Pyramid’s focus is helping their members to create art, however their projects also help members to increase their confidence and interpersonal skills, and to help them to live more independent lives. 

Supporting people with learning disabilities and autistic people to overcome the barriers to digital inclusion

Many staff at Pyramid have known their members for many years, and have excellent, trusting relationships with their members which are based on mutual respect. They understand their members needs and interests, and how digital can be used to enable them.

Many people with learning disabilities and autistic people face complex barriers which can limit their digital inclusion. They vary between individuals, but include:

  • Many people struggle to afford digital equipment and connectivity due to low levels of employment in this community.
  • Many people with learning disabilities find commonly used digital devices are not accessible for them, and many apps and websites are not designed for this user group.  70% of UK websites are not compliant with accessibility standards.
  • Many people with learning disabilities miss out on the life-enriching experiences that the internet can provide if their carers, support workers, or families think they are too vulnerable to the potential dangers that the internet can present, and therefore restrict their access and usage, limiting their personal choice and freedom. 
  • Some people with learning disabilities lack the confidence to try digital activities, or do not understand how they might be relevant to them. 

Pyramid has embedded digital inclusion support across their service. Their staff are trained in digital inclusion awareness, helping them to understand how digital skills can help their members to make art, access opportunities and live fulfilled and balanced lives. They have also received training from AbilityNet to help them understand how devices can be made more accessible for members. Pyramid is a member of the National Databank and is actively giving out SIM cards to members in data poverty. 

Integrating digital inclusion into arts activities

Pyramid find that using art, music and creative activities is a fantastic way to engage their members with digital activities, particularly those who are nervous about trying new things. An example of this may be running a session where artists create physical artwork, but encourage members to use tablets to take photographs of the work afterwards. Alternatively, members may practise drawing on paper but also be given the opportunity to use drawing apps to create art work. This makes using digital more relevant for members as they can see how it relates to their interests.

Pyramid began embedding digital inclusion support into arts sessions in 2019 with their ‘Next Steps’ group’s self-portraiture project.

Most recently Pyramid has used a stop motion studio app to embed digital skills and awareness into in an arts project, working with a group of artists with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) at Aspire. They explored sensory objects found in nature to make abstract 2D art, alongside creating experimental stop motion films. Some of these artists had never used digital technologies before, and can be a little resistant to trying new things. The facilitator’s knowledge of the group and their particular needs and interests meant that she was able introduce digital into the project in a way that was enjoyable and accessible for members. The project involved collaging objects from nature, making it very tactile, which suited the needs of the members. Using the app meant that the members’ collages were captured into short films which could be shared far more widely with others. The facilitator ensured that artists with PMLD were involved in every stage of the process. They were encouraged to use the app and have autonomy on what they wanted the finished films to look like.

“The group are very nervous about engaging with digital tasks. By making digital activities a very small part of a much bigger project we got even the most unwilling group members pressing buttons on a screen and managed to create some beautiful artwork in the meantime. Using the app was so easy and enjoyable that it has made the members, and us as facilitators, much more excited to learn new digital skills in the future.”

Wendy Robinson, Artist, Pyramid

Facilitating the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network

The Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network (ALaDDIN) brings together organisations supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities across Leeds, to address digital exclusion.

The network was formed in response to the pandemic with member organisations initially coming together to support each other to move their delivery online.  The necessary closure of physical spaces. left many autistic people and people with learning disabilities at risk of social isolation, boredom, and mental health issues.

Since the pandemic the network has worked to explore shared barriers and solutions, share best practice, and partner to access additional resources and funding. So far ALaDDIN member organisations have been supported to apply for and secure £300,000 of external funding to support digital inclusion. Beneficiaries include Advonet, LEEP, Slate, People Matters, The Bridge (Health for All,) Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, and the Halo group at Hamara.

Hosting the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator

As well as co-facilitating the ALaDDIN network, in 2021 Pyramid began hosting an Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator. The Coordinator works with organisations citywide to embed digital inclusion support within their service offers for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

This post is matrix-managed by 100% Digital Leeds and was originally funded by NHS Leeds. The post is currently funded by UK Shared Prosperity Fund with a focus on supporting digital inclusion to increase financial inclusion for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

 “The matrix-management arrangement and the relationship with 100% Digital Leeds has meant that the Coordinator has been able to act as a neutral broker for new partnership work. It really feels like the ‘neutrality’ of the post and the city-wide focus created by the association with 100% Digital Leeds gives greater traction and impact to projects than would have happened had the projects been done by Pyramid working in isolation. The partnership with 100% Digital Leeds has allowed Pyramid to make new friends, partnerships and projects across the city which have benefited individuals and organisations in many ways. It has also had a really positive impact on the way that we do things at Pyramid ourselves.”

James Hill, Director, Pyramid


It is very important that people with learning disabilities and autistic people have a chance to express what they need and want from support services. A group of autistic people and people with learning disabilities meet up once per month to inform the work of ALaDDIN.  The group have the chance to share their questions and concerns about doing things digitally and they can get the help they need. 

“I love being a part of the ALaDDIN consultation group because I feel listened to there. We learn new skills while doing fun activities and the other people in the group help me when I get stuck. I am getting more confident with my digital skills all of the time and I enjoy showing my mum and dad the things I have learned.”

Stephen, member of the ALaDDIN consultation group

The group supports one another to learn digital skills such as using Google maps and making their devices more accessible, which they pass onto their peers, workers, friends and families. The group continue to meet at Pyramid once a month and are reimbursed each meeting for the important work they do. 

Film made by Royal Mencap and the ALaDDIN consultation group.

Digital inclusion and financial resilience

Pyramid are a Multiply delivery partner and have worked with 30 members to help them to improve their numeracy and digital skills for improved money management in the face of increased cost of living.

Many of the members at Pyramid have traditionally found it challenging to learning maths, or have not understood how maths is applicable or useful to their own lives. However, staff at Pyramid made sure that activities were engaging for their members by making them relevant to their interests and day-to-day activities. Tasks included members creating their own money and using this to ‘buy’ imaginary things. Members also spent time trying to find art materials at bargain prices online with the support of artists and volunteers.

Each person who took part in the Multiply programme was gifted a device which was suited to their needs. For instance, members who don’t have access to the internet at home were given devices with data on them, and members who struggle to read and write were given smart speakers which they can control with their voices. Some of the members had parents or carers who also needed a little extra support to use the devices. A session was organised by the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator for group members and parents and carers to practise setting up and using the devices together. The members have been using these devices in a variety of ways, from helping them to create art to helping them to access social media and apply for jobs.

“Ella would normally be intimidated by maths activities. As someone with a learning disability, she had historically found learning maths very challenging and frustrating. However, when she came to us, she really enjoyed learning maths skills in an environment where she felt comfortable, alongside workers who she felt comfortable working with. This had a really positive impact on her confidence and self esteem. She feels very confident using her new tablet and the internet now, and enjoys using this to be able to join social groups.”

Nicky Lines, Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator, Pyramid

Digital inclusion for employability

Pyramid has been working in collaboration with Leeds City Council, People Matters, and United Response to support employability for people with learning disabilities and autistic people by embedding digital inclusion into their Developing You course. Developing You is a free, twelve-week training programme for adults with learning disabilities and autistic people, which explores issues around wellbeing and work. The group takes part in a range of activities to learn about the world of work, identifying their own skills and interests, thinking about what jobs they might be suited to, and identifying the steps they could take to get there.

100% Digital Leeds has worked with Pyramid to ensure that digital skills have been embedded into the Developing You course. The Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator has attended sessions to ensure that bespoke digital interventions are planned to support the needs of students and has worked closely with tutors in the planning of the course. The Coordinator has also worked with tutors so that they feel confident signposting members for further digital support where required.

Pyramid has received funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to deliver a project which will support autistic artists and artists with learning disabilities to make money from their work. The course will involve practical training such as sessions on how to organise a craft stall and how to facilitate a workshop. It will also teach people how they can use digital skills to promote their work, from setting up a successful social media account to creating their own webpage.  

Next Steps

Pyramid continue to embed digital technologies in the work they do in ways which are creative and relevant to their members. They are planning on running another cohort of Multiply for seven of their older members who are not currently confident using digital technologies. They will be recruiting members to their new employability project over the next few months.

The Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator will continue to coordinate digital inclusion projects throughout the city, with a focus on supporting people with autism and learning disabilities to use digital in ways that can help them to manage their finances independently and move closer to employment. Contact if you are interested in joining the ALaDDIN network or want to find out more.