Being respected by others
We want a world where everyone with a learning disability is treated equally and with kindness
… A world where we feel safe, welcome and included everywhere we go and when we are online
… A world where the general public has a better understanding of learning disability
Rachael’s story – finding friendship
Rachael, who lives in Halifax, has experienced the impact of negative attitudes and prejudice towards people with learning disability. From childhood to adulthood she has faced impatience, low expectations, swearing and staring from members of the public.
When she was young, Rachael spent three years performing in pantomime shows. However, when the time came to move up a group, she was held back rather than moving to the class for older children. “Nobody would support me or change the way the group was run so I could be included as they saw it as too much effort. I had to stay in the group for younger children which I hated,” she explains.
As an adult, these negative attitudes have continued and Rachael has been taken advantage of, making it difficult for her to know who to trust when making new friends. “I made friends with someone at work who was nice to me at first, but it turned out she just wanted money from me,” she says. “Other people at work made me do all the worst jobs.”
As a result of her experiences, Rachael finds it hard to leave her house alone and has often felt isolated.
However, more recently, Rachael joined Luv2meetU, a friendship service run by Hft which supports adults with a learning disability to make connections with others. “It’s nice knowing there are people out there who are like me and can support me so I know I’m not alone. It’s a community,” she says.
Through Luv2meetU events, Rachael has formed strong connections with other members across the country who are a similar age and are interested in similar things “Luv2meetU is amazing and one of the best things that has ever happened to me. My confidence has really grown.”
Rachael recognises the huge impact negative attitudes can have on the lives and mental health of people with a learning disability and would like MPs to take action so people don’t have to face exclusion and unkindness. She says, “it’s happened to me in the past and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
She believes there should be greater representation of people with a learning disability in society, including within politics and the Government. She also wants more support for people with a learning disability to make friends with the consideration of people’s ages and the things they’re interested in – something that was only made possible for her through Luv2meetU.
“I would also like to see more disability awareness training among the public so people with a learning disability are included in everyday life,” Rachael says.
“For example, wearing the sunflower lanyard (which can be worn by anyone with a disability or illness to indicate they might benefit from more support in public) is really beginning to make a difference as people are starting to understand what it means.
“More change and understanding like this would create a happier world.”
Together we will call for:
- More inclusive and equal communities
- Greater disability awareness training
- An end to disability hate crime, in person and online
Take a look at our work on attitudes here: