• Patsy Corcoran

Friendships and rights

People with learning disabilities have the right to make their own decisions about friendship, intimacy and love. Rights to friendships and relationships are supported by law, policy and guidance, yet people with learning disabilities still face attitudinal barriers and practical challenges to forming and maintaining their friendships and relationships.

People with learning disabilities may not have opportunities to learn about safe friendships and relationships whilst families and professionals may be concerned about risks and consequences of the choices people make.

People may struggle to find clear information about intimate relationships, health and wellbeing, though online resources can be made available and shared if people know where to look. https://www.choicesupport.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/supported-loving/supported-loving-toolkit

Meeting new people often involves practical guidance alongside real opportunities to meet potential friends and partners. Human connections can quickly become a process of risk assessments, planning and anything but private exchanges for only the very determined.

Speaking up campaigns help raise awareness about people's rights and challenge the limits by care providers whose delivery patterns often don't accommodate a night out with friends https://stayuplate.org

When speaking up about what makes life good, people with learning disabilities working with Reach at Asist are clear that love and friendships are key. https://youtu.be/16yogYm6rfA

Equal rights to friendships and relationships should not just remain an ethical, moral or legal right but should lead to having friendships and relationships if that is what people with learning disabilities choose.

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Asist provides specialist independent advocacy support focused on one-to-one, issue based advocacy services for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and/or mental health issues.


Advocacy is about enabling people who have difficulty speaking out to speak up and make their own, informed, independent choices about decisions that affect their lives.


Asist provides the Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy service (IMCA) and the Independent Mental Health Act Advocacy service (IMHA) in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. Asist also offers advocacy to people in Stoke on Trent through a number of specialist projects including Care Act, BME, NHS Complaints and Parents Advocacy.

Asist is nationally recognised for developing, writing and promoting the Watching Brief guidance which outlines the core principles that underpin all Non-Instructed Advocacy support services across the UK.

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Registered office: Asist, Winton House, Stoke Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2RW

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