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.