Getting involved in the community—What stops us? Findings from an inclusive research project
Abstract© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Feeling alone and not connected to other people where you live affects many people and especially people with a learning disability. The government and the newspapers are talking a lot about this, they want to understand who is affected and what can be done. Our group did a research project to find out some of the things that stop us getting involved in local places with local people where we can make and keep friends. The people in the research project mainly lived independently and did not use learning disability services, so needed to use local community organisations. Pictorial cards, made by one of the group members, using photographs were used to sort out all the things we talked about into groups. These included transport, fear and anxiety, limits on our choice and control, risks and personal safety. We then talked about what could be done, this included more easy read information, so people know what is available locally, more support to go to places and advocacy to get involved. There also needs to be better community safety including more Safe Places in the community. Abstract: Background Social isolation is an issue that affects many people and especially people with a learning disability. There is an association between social exclusion and feeling lonely, an issue currently highlighted as a growing concern which needs to be addressed both in the media and by the government. Methods The Building Bridges Research Group do inclusive research projects about the issues that are important to them. Over the summer of 2018, the research group undertook an inclusive research project to identify some of the specific barriers that prevent community inclusion and the opportunity to develop friends. The people involved mainly lived independently and did not use learning disability services, with the exception of evening clubs, so needed to use universal services. Results Pictorial cards, made by one of the group, using photographs were used to organise the data into themes. These included transport, fear and anxiety, limits on choice and control, risks and personal safety. Conclusion The inclusive research design enabled people with a learning disability to contribute to all stages of the research project, from identifying the issue, gathering data, the analysis and writing up. They also made suggestions of ways to increase social networks, friendships and well-being and so decrease loneliness. These include more access to easy read information, more support and advocacy and measures to address community safety including a wider roll-out of the Safe Places scheme. There also needs to be further research undertaken with other people with a learning disability in different areas to widen the understanding of the impact of these barriers on people's lives.
CitationMooney, F., Rafique, N. and Tilley, L. (2019) Getting involved in the community—What stops us? Findings from an inclusive research project, British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(4), pp. 241-246.
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
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