International Friendship Day

Yesterday was International Friendship Day – a day to promote friendship across cultures, famously celebrated in South East Asia with the giving of cards and gifts.

The UK may not share in this level of festivity; however the day is a timely reminder to appreciate our friends and reflect on what friendship means to people with learning disabilities and the barriers they can face.

People with learning disabilities often have smaller social networks. Their relationships also tend to be with people who are paid to support them, their immediate family and the people they live with. This social isolation can be common with fewer opportunities to meet new and existing friends. Mencap state that 34% of adults with a learning disability have no more than yearly contact with friends.

However, it does not have to be this way. Effective and caring support can facilitate attendance at social events, trying new hobbies and spending more time in the local community to build up links with others and overcome many of the barriers.

People with learning disabilities are not the only ones to feel lonely. As a member of the community, we can all do our bit to make sure everyone feels welcome and extend the hand of friendship not just on International Friendship Day but throughout the year.

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