What's Out There?

People with learning difficulties and their families represent a diverse group and come from all backgrounds, cultures and walks of life. However, people with learning difficulties and families from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities often face major barriers in accessing services and support that meets their needs.

In partnership with The Action Group, The British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) and Glasgow Learning Disability Partnership, the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability (SCLD)  felt there was a need to do some research into this.  These organisations make up the steering group for the project.  The steering group decided to call this work the 'What's Out There?' or 'WOT?' project.

The Lonely Society?

According to a new report released by the Mental Health Foundation, relationships that are vital to health and well-being are under threat by modern life, which can isolate people from one another and lead to loneliness. UK-wide research carried out for The Lonely Society? shows that one in ten people often feel lonely (11%) and half think that people are getting lonelier in general (48%).

The report says the way in which people now live is impacting on their ability to connect with others. More people live alone: the percentage of households occupied by one person doubled from 6% in 1972 to 12% in 2008. The divorce rate has almost doubled in the past 50 years and the number of lone parent households is rising. People are living longer but many older people are doing so alone. Because of people pursuing careers and education opportunities, many now live further away from their families and the communities they grew up in. Figures show that one in three people would like to live closer to their family to see them more often (35%).

Old-style communities are in decline and the closure of local amenities such as post offices and working men's clubs have had an impact on people for whom they were a focal point, particularly those living on the margins of society and vulnerable to loneliness, such as the elderly, people out of work or those living with a disability.

Early Experience of Implementing the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act

Commissioned by the Scottish Government and published in 2009, this report was authored. It explores the experiences of people who use services, their carers, and a range of service professionals living and working with the new Act and compare experiences of the new Act with expectations expressed prior to the implementation of the new Act. The report identifies a number of issues for future development of mental health law and the involvement of people who use services.

Disabled People Invisible in Britain Today (Sept. 2010)

Research commissioned by Scope, carried out by Com Res and released on 1st September 2010 gives us some hope in terms of people's meaningful inclusion in society. It also gives us some cause for concern. We will leave you to draw your own conclusions from the statistics. Key findings are as follows:-

  • 87% of all Scottish respondents agreed that disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else
  • 88% of all Scottish respondents had never worked with a disabled colleague
  • 75% of all Scottish respondents had not seen any news stories in the last couple of months about the problems disabled people have finding work however 52% had seen news stories about benefit fraud
  • 84% of all Scottish respondents said that seeing people with disabilities in public was no different to seeing anyone else or that they were pleased to see people in the community
  • 29% of people in Scotland (who are not disabled and do not have a disabled family member) don’t know any disabled people
  • 91% of people in Scotland have never had a disabled person in their house for a social occasion

The Effects of Institutionalisation

This research, published in 2006 was carried out by Jane Hubert and Sheila Hollins.

They looked at the effect of institutionalisation on men with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour in long-stay hospital care. They found that the men’s lives were emotionally, socially and physically deprived. Their individual, gender and social identities were not recognised, and their general health and mental healthcare needs were inadequately addressed.

Bereaved adults with intellectual disabilities

This research, published in 2006 was carried out by Jane Hubert and Sheila Hollins.

They looked at the effect of institutionalisation on men with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour in long-stay hospital care. They found that the men’s lives were emotionally, socially and physically deprived. Their individual, gender and social identities were not recognised, and their general health and mental healthcare needs were inadequately addressed.

Moving Home

This research was conducted by Katherine Owen, Jane Hubert and Sheila Hollins.  It was published in the British Journal of Learning Disability in 2008.

Previous research into deinstitutionalization has largely ignored the perspective of people with intellectual disabilities, especially those with severe intellectual disabilities. This research aimed first to understand how women with severe intellectual disabilities experienced transition from a locked ward of an old long-stay hospital into other homes, and second, to determine the extent to which their lives changed in their new homes.

Life Opportunties Survey

A major disability survey has been released identifying the most common barriers towards daily life...

The Life Opportunities Survey by the Office for National Statistics asked 18,000 people about eight key areas of life to identify the most common "social barriers" they face...

One of the biggest issues that emerged from the survey is the effect of "anxiety and lack of confidence" on daily and common activities.

The results state that 19 in 100 adults with impairments cite "anxiety and lack of confidence" as a barrier to employment whereas this drops to only 4 in 100 for adults without impairments… The comprehensive study also looks at differences between adults with impairments and those without in a variety of situations such as work, home life and financial situations such as loan repayment.

A Life Like Any Other?

This is a report released by the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights in 2008. It painted a picture of neglect, abuse and the denial of fundamental human rights to adults living with learning difficulties in the UK.


Evidence received by the Committee revealed that people with learning difficulties are more vulnerable to abuse and are less likely to understand their fundamental human rights, including to be treated with dignity and respect by public authorities. Adults with learning difficulties and their advocates and carers told the Committee about how people were denied the opportunity to conduct their own lives as any adult would take for granted including the ability to form and conduct relationships.


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A Life Like Any Other? - Easy Read

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