15th – 21st June 2020 marks the annual Learning Disability Week.
Learning Disability Week is organised by Mencap, a charity that supports the over 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK, and their families, to change laws and improve health and care services as well as access to education and employment. As a provider of social care, the charity also directly supports over 5,000 people with a learning disability.
The focus of Learning Disability Week this year is friendship.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, people with a learning disability already faced extreme levels of social isolation and loneliness. Mencap research found that people with a learning disability are seven times more likely to feel lonely than the general population.
Some people with a learning disability who have lost their support during this difficult time have seen their world become very small. The closure of day services, loss of routine, difficulties staying in touch with family and friends and keeping active means that they are facing unprecedented levels of loneliness. Many families and carers are worried about the long-term impact this crisis will have on the wellbeing, mental health and development of the person with a learning disability who they support.
Mencap are working to ensure that, as we emerge from lockdown, people with a learning disability are not forgotten about and are supported to play a full and meaningful role in their community.
Mencap has adapted their programmes to support people with a learning disability to stay in touch with others during lockdown. The charity has hosted virtual group social events online, and supported buddies and volunteers to stay in touch via videos calls, phone or even by letter for those who struggle with technology.
Due to the current circumstances, Learning Disabilities Week will take place online this year. There are still many ways to get involved. People can sign up to their befriending service, as well as share stories and connections from the #MencapFamily on social media, and tag #LDWeek2020.
Further details can be found on the Mencap website: