Unmet support needs driving loneliness in people with learning disabilities, Hft finds


More than a third of people with a learning disability feel lonely almost all of the time and hardly ever go out to socialise, a new study has found.

A similar number of people said they did not feel part of their local community and were not confident making friends, while 38% said they were worried that people will not understand their disability.

The survey, commissioned by Hft and conducted on 1,000 adults with learning disabilities in August, suggests that their experiences of loneliness were not limited to the COVID lockdown.

Story continues below

However, almost half of those surveyed said the pandemic has exacerbated their feelings of loneliness.

The report entitled, Lockdown on Loneliness, highlights unmet support needs as a key driver of loneliness which prevents many people with a learning disability from taking opportunities to socialise.

Almost a quarter of people (24%) surveyed said they did not have enough support to go out into their community, while two thirds (66%) said they would like more support to do social activities and make friends, highlighting the role social care plays in supporting people with a learning disability to participate in every day social activities.

Based on the findings of the report, Hft has now made a series of recommendations to government to influence change and will be raising awareness of the issue through its Lockdown on Loneliness campaign.

Victoria Hemmingway, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Hft said: “One of the consequences of the last 18 months, is that the unique set of circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a common experience of loneliness. Restrictions to our everyday life, through lockdowns, shielding, and isolation, has meant everyone, to some extent, has experienced feeling more disconnected from family, friends and support networks.

“But for many people with a learning disability, loneliness hasn’t been restricted to the pandemic; it is a chronic and long-term experience. By identifying the drivers of loneliness and taking action to combat these barriers we have the opportunity to make positive change as we rebuild our communities, ensuring that no one with a learning disability spends a lifetime feeling like they are still in lockdown.

“Hft’s vision is for a world in which people with a learning disability can live the best life possible. This must include having equal opportunity to make and maintain friendships and be part of a community.”

Tags : Hftlearning disabilitieslearning disabilityResearch
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke