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Learning Disability Week 2020: The importance of friendship

Over the last few months, we’ve all had to adapt to new ways of living. Communities have come together to praise carers, support the most vulnerable in society and connect through technology. The positive impact of that has been felt by people we support.

We know statistically that many people with a learning disability or autism face loneliness and social isolation in their usual lives. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that isolation for people we support could have become unbearable, yet we’re hearing lots of positive stories.

Supporting each other

A group of people we support who share a supported living home shared their experience of friendships during lockdown.

VE Day street partySince moving in, relations with neighbours have blossomed. One of the people supported has been round to one for coffee, another neighbour comes to visit the service and brings her dog too. When one of the people we support turned 50, he wanted to invite his neighbours to his party. A fantastic time was had by all!

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, those friendships have gone from strength to strength.

The moment lockdown was announced, our staff team spoke to the neighbours and offered help with shopping if needed. This was taken up with gratitude. The community spirit didn’t stop there and the day before VE day, neighbours invited everyone to a street party.

Connecting digitally

John uses his tablet to stay connectedIt’s not just about building friendships with neighbours. For other people we support, connecting has moved online.

Some of the people we support have attended regular religious services for years. Thanks to technology and excellent support teams, they have been able to join in with those services and connect with the people they normally see each week.

Technology, including a very kind donation of tablets from CHG MERIDIAN, has also enabled people we support to stay connected with family and friends.

Looking to the future

The benefits for everyone are obvious and we can see that many people across Brandon have built stronger relationships with friends, relatives, and neighbours over the last few months.

Reports show that having an active social life can help people with a learning disability to feel happier, included and valued1. It can also improve health and lower the risk of early mortality2.

As lockdown eases and people begin to experience more freedom, the one thing that will remain is those connections. Here’s to friendship!

Can you connect people?

We're looking for passionate people who can empower and support people with a learning disability or autism to make lasting friendships. Find out more about becoming a support worker or team leader.

1(Mason et al. 2013; Chadwick et al. 2014; Wilson et al., 2017)
2(Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010; Ho, 2016; Hojjat et al., 2017)