Our research shows that people with the highest support needs rarely get the specialised help to make strong, enduring relationships in their local communities.
Too often these individuals and their families are closed off from their communities, with little outside support and as a result, are less likely to lead fulfilling lives, to be almost wholly dependent on statuary support and in the worst case scenarios more open to abuse.
Yet the experience from the Foundation’s work around “Connecting” carried out over the last five years is that where this support is provided the potential outcomes are significant; People using the service, and their families, see an improved quality of life and increased options, paid support staff learn new ways of working with the community and there are long-term savings to be made as ‘natural supports’ diminish the need for specialised services.
The Foundation’s pioneering “Connecting People” Programme is based on the approach that people with learning disabilities who need support in their daily lives are more likely to be safe and fulfilled if they are helped to build strong and meaningful connections and relationships in their community. Connecting is not just about people with learning disabilities being in their local communities or doing activities. Crucially, Connecting helps people to build relationships that are mutually beneficial by establishing what both sides have to offer to one another, irrespective of disability or disadvantage.
The Connecting People Project worked with commissioners and local providers across three key sites to develop their connecting services. Videos showing the impact of this support and the key findings identified are available to view on our website along with several resources which could help any commissioner or provider organisation wanting to benefit from developing their connecting services to make them more meaningful and sustainable.
Connecting is not just the concern of the individual with a learning disability. It benefits everyone in our society when communities are stronger, more integrated and inclusive of everyone. People with learning disabilities have as much to offer their local communities as everyone else, they sometimes just need more support to make the initial connection with these communities. One of the benefits of connecting is that eventually, relationships build up which can allow for people with learning disabilities to access their communities without the need for paid support.
The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities now offers a tailored programme of support, available to anyone who wants to benefit from developing how it connects people with learning disabilities with their communities, to help identify and overcome any barriers to allowing successful connecting.