Harassment and abuse continues for people with learning disabilities living independently


Next month (June 18th) sees this year’s annual Learning Disability Week which this year will focus on the continuation of the work launched last year as the ‘Stand by me’  campaign on hate crime.

This report, published by Lemos & Crane and supported by the foundation for people with learning disabilities and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is a series of accounts of ordinary people with learning disabilities whose daily lives are severely impacted by exploitation and cruelty.

It is based on in-depth interviews by frontline practitioners and focuses on the experience of people living independently in the community. It shows a continuing litany of harassment, abuse and related crime.

The report shows that perpetrators tend to be people in the locality, including neighbours, and often young people and schoolchildren.

The report also points out the extent of loneliness felt by many people spoken to, with one in four people saying they had no friends. The author suggests this put them at particular risk, leaving them with “little choice but to visit hostile public spaces and spend time with exploitative and cruel people.”

Dame Jo Williams, Chair or the Care Quality Commission says the report:

reminds us of the importance of ensuring that people with learning disabilities have informal as well as professional support within neighbourhoods and communities – and how important friends, families and neighbours are in keeping people safe.

You can download the full report here  (requires site registration) Loneliness and Cruelty: people with learning disabilities and their experiences of harassment, abuse and related crime in the community Gravell C, Lemos and Crane

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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