It’s estimated that there are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK, and many are struggling to rebuild and strengthen social connections broken by the pandemic.

Recent research by the Office of National Statistics reveals that feelings of chronic loneliness are most likely to have been experienced by people with learning disabilities. Many of them have been shielding from Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions, and need urgent support to ease the immediate impact of loneliness and isolation.

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A new partnership between SeeAbility, Learning Disability England (LDE) and their members, will see a 6-month rapid response programme, Creating Connections, recruit local volunteers and deploy peer supporters to help increase the network of support and social connections for people with disabilities most at risk. Funded by National Lottery’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, and The Office for Civil Society, the programme will seek to create connection with community groups including those led by people with lived experience of learning disabilities, based in the local area.

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Lisa Hopkins, Chief Executive at SeeAbility said:

People with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss are particularly vulnerable to loneliness as they have low rates of employment and can often have fewer chances to socialise and take part in leisure activities. Overwhelmingly, they are telling us that the pandemic has exacerbated this situation – leading to feelings of isolation, anxiety and mental health challenges.  SeeAbility and LDE want to end loneliness for people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss in England by providing immediate practical support that brings communities together, making them more resilient both now and in the future.

Desiree D’Souza, Executive Director of Innovation and Social Impact at SeeAbility said:

Technology is helping the world stay connected at time when people can’t get together -but many disabled people are digitally excluded and face financial, accessibility and skills barriers. In collaboration with our partners, we’ll be reaching the most excluded and isolated people in their communities, ensuring that our specialist support, resources and training promotes digital inclusion by encouraging community participation online.

Samantha Clark, Chief Executive at Learning Disability England said:

LDE’s member organisations have extensive experience of providing community, education and training support services and established, trusted, relationships with thousands of people with learning disabilities. The Creating Connections programme will ensure that people with learning disabilities and autism are able to live a more connected life.

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Click here to read this page in easy read

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Creating Connections is looking for volunteers now!

We’re looking for people with a learning disability to act as peer supporters, as well as volunteers from the wider community, to increase social connections and reduce isolation for people with a learning disability.

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Join us and make a real difference in someone’s life.

Get in touch if you have a few hours to spare each week. You can work flexibly at hours to suit you. Register your interest by emailing [email protected] and we’ll get in touch as soon as we launch.

Volunteers will work remotely from home, as well as offer safe, socially distanced support in the local community.

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Logo to show funding from HM Government in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund

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