CARP Collaborations: From existing to living

 

Today young people with learning disabilities are delivering powerful messages to Welsh politicians about the social isolation and social segregation of their peers.

 

Young people with disabilities feel they face many prejudices which harms their life chances and well-being.  They feel they are too often ‘just existing’ rather than living a good life. They face problems of isolation, bullying, separation from communities and lack of opportunities. These are the messages that young disabled people will be sharing with Assembly Members and policy makers in the Senedd today.

 

These messages are captured in an important report published today by C.A.R.P. (Community Action in Research and Policy) Collaborations in partnership with The Building Bridges Project. In an innovative and unique research project, funded by the Big lottery Fund through the UK wide DRILL research programme, C.A.R.P. Collaborations has trained and employed 8 young people with learning disabilities as peer researchers. These peer researchers have worked with 85 young people living in the Gwent area to investigate patterns of friendship and social isolation among young people with learning disabilities in transition to adulthood.

 

A peer researcher explains how “we tried to find out what support is needed, how we can move from the experience of ‘existing’ into the experience of ‘living a full life’. We wanted to look at friendship patterns and how they contribute to ‘having fun’ and ‘having a happy fulfilled life’ and how a loss or lack of friendships can create loneliness and ‘unhealthy lives’”.

 

They continue, “Today we want to share our findings with those who have the power to make things happen for young people with learning disabilities.”

 

The young people highlight how they found that life was still a daily battle for many young people with learning disabilities. For example, they found evidence of bullying and hate crime.

 

“Many young disabled people were being goaded to do things that they did not want to do, baiting and teasing and cyber bullying. These experiences lead some, young people to drop out of mainstream education, some were too scared to go out in their neighbourhoods”.

 

It doesn’t stop there, young people with learning disabilities are also more likely to experience or be at risk of social isolation and exclusion. They rely more heavily on parents and grandparents and carers to help them get to see friends.  They also find they make friends with people at projects but then lose contact once those projects or schemes end. This leaves many only able to keep in touch with their friends electronically.

 

The peer researchers also want to highlight how young people with learning disabilities feel more needs to be done through the education system to help young people with learning disabilities develop personal aspirations and help find work. For example, the researchers found, “young people with learning disabilities don’t get the opportunity to undertake work experience at the same age as non- disabled peers.”

 

Julie Morgan AM advocate for children’s rights and cross- party group chair of children and young people’s assembly members group said, “I am delighted that the peer researchers have chosen to launch their findings at the Senedd.  It is so important that Assembly Members get to hear the young people’s important messages first hand and I hope other young people with learning disabilities will take inspiration from their work.”

 

Vikki Butler, Co-Director of CARP Collaborations and report author says “I am so proud of the work these young people have done and their courage in putting themselves forwards to speak today.  They have some important and sometimes troubling messages to get across. I hope that the people who attend really listen to what the young people have to say and act to make a difference.”

 

The full findings and video can be accessed on the 24th May on  http://www.carpcollaborations.org/