What’s on our radar

Community Living

Covid persists, ordinary life is glorious and many are calling for a long-term fix..just a few recent issues that have caught our eye at Community Living.

It is crucial the pandemic’s lasting impact on people with learning disabilities, families and support staff remains under scrutiny.

For the latest phase of the UK-wide Coronavirus and People with Learning Disabilities Study, launched in late 2020, researchers have been recruiting minority ethnic people with a learning disability to share experiences.

Many support services are still not back to pre-pandemic levels, and there are fresh concerns about provision.

The Guardian has been among those reporting how providers commissioned by councils to support people with complex needs are handing contracts back because they are no longer financially viable.

The short-term relief in the autumn statement, including plans to raise social care spending by £2.8 billion, was welcome. However, charities such as the Carers Trust have said a long-term fix is needed.

A House of Lords’ select committee report on adult social care issued in December reiterated the need for funding and a long-term plan.
The report, rather wonderfully, was titled A Gloriously Ordinary Life and included references to learning disability support.

l There was more positivity in research published by the NHS Confederation and the Centre for Mental Health. It outlined a vision to improve services for people with a learning disability or autism.

Calling for early intervention, co-production and a stronger workforce, the centre posted on Facebook: “In 10 years’ time, our vision is that these services will look different…

“Every element of this vision is already a reality somewhere in England. But to make it a reality across the country, we need investment and a willingness to make change happen.”

Providers commissioned to support people with complex needs are handing contracts back as they are no longer financially viable.

Climbers raise funds for sensory and sports kit

Anything is possible with the right support.

This was the motto of a team that climbed Mount Snowdon to raise funds to buy sensory and sports equipment.

The new equipment is for services run by support provider Active Prospects.

Matt Leadbeater receives support from the charity, which works with people across the south east.

Joining him on the ascent was Helen Guest, co-production programmes manager at Active Prospects Leadbeater said: “The part I liked best was seeing Wales up in the mountain and the views were stunning.”

Training for the 10 mile, six-and-a-half hour mountain trek at the end of last year included walks up Box Hill in Surrey, cycling and high-intensity interval training.

The team of nine walkers included both staff and people receiving support.

The £4,000 raised will fund equipment such as starry night ceiling panels and light boxes for sensory rooms as well as sports equipment such as adapted tricycles.

Peak progress: Matt Leadbeater and Helen Guest at Mount Snowden
Photo: Active Prospects

Don’t write off children, says campaign

The right support for autistic children at school can influence their futures as adults.

A campaign by Ambitious about Autism aims to stop schools giving up on autistic pupils.

The charity’s Written Off? campaign demands the government protects special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding and families’ legal rights to get support for their children.

Research among 2,000 families and young people showed two-thirds (65%) of families were unhappy with their child’s mainstream education. More than one in three (36%) autistic pupils reported being out of school against their wishes.

The government is reviewing the SEND system. Families fear its green paper proposals, including limiting the ability to choose a school, will make it harder for children to get support in education.

Input sought for Scots law

The Scottish government has been recruiting neurodivergent people for a panel to design an inclusive consultation over a proposed law. The Learning Disability, Autism and Neurodiversity Bill aims to protect people’s rights. It will also consider establishing a commissioner to protect these rights in practice.

Book on autistic experience

Autistic and activist contributors are among those whose writing features in a new book about the autistic experience. Sara Ryan has co-edited the Routledge International Handbook of Critical Autism Studies with fellow academic Damian Milton. Ryan said the process has been “an exciting and moving experience”. Milton hopes the book will support future research and practice.

Award for creative courses

The Centre for Learning Disabilities Education at City Lit adult education college has won Inclusive Provider of Adult Education at the recent Mayor of London’s Adult Learning Awards. The institute offers a creative art curriculum for adults with learning disabilities.

Award for campaign group

The Leaders’ List, an annual celebration of achievement, led by charity Dimensions, Learning Disability England and Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, has recognised a host of talents. Leeds-based Stop People Dying Too Young – which challenges unequal treatment of autistic or learning disabled patients – is among the winners.

Learning Disability Week

Learning Disability Week beings on 25 June. The theme of the annual campaign, organised by Mencap, is due to be announced early this year.

Annual health checks targeted

Ensuring people with a learning disability have annual health checks is one aim of a new strategy in Leicestershire.

The LDA Collaborative – LDA stands for learning disability or autism – is led by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and involves Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board.