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23 Ways to Cheerlead Learning Disability in 2023

I published an article in the recent edition of the IHSCM Loop e-magazine about the importance of becoming a learning disability cheerleader and how we can all hear the voices of individuals with a learning disability.

2022 was a landmark year in raising the profile of learning disability nationally, with the Mencap MythBusters dispelling common preconceptions, the BBC comedy-drama Ralph & Katie addressing relationships and the ITV News investigation into standards of support for young adults across the UK. However, people with learning disabilities themselves are saying that there is still much to be done to achieve parity of opportunity, particularly around health care, access to employment and developing meaningful relationships.

So what can we, as family members, friends and supporters do to support individuals achieve this in 2023? Here are my 23 tips for you to cheerlead learning disabilities in 2023!

1. Be kind. I know this seems straight forward, but a smile or kind word can really make someone’s day!

2. Challenge your preconceptions of learning disability; do a little research, or if possible, grab a cuppa with an individual with a learning disability- have a chat and get to know them as a person

3. Listen to individuals with a learning disability and their families when shaping local provision of support. Ask questions and respond appropriately

4. Engage consistently with individuals- take the time to build relationships based on open communication, shared values and trust

5. Provide information in an accessible format to support individuals to make decisions; help explore options, whilst respecting the individual’s right to make the decision which they feel is best for them

6. Support the involvement of individuals with a learning disability and their families in assessment, planning and review of support packages, particularly around their health care

7. Complete Tier 1 of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability & Autism- get a feel of what individuals want, from their perspective!

8. If you notice someone with a learning disability being supported well and/ or really enjoying life, celebrate it!

9. Celebrate individuals with a learning disability and all their achievements, however big or small!

10. Share any concerns you may have about an individual with a learning disability; this could be crucial in safeguarding them from harm, neglect or exploitation

11. Check that someone you know with a learning disability is keeping safe and warm this winter, and has enough to eat

12. Follow the local and national news; actively engage with stories impacting the lives of children and young adults with a learning disability

13. Join campaigns which promote positive community involvement for adults with a learning disability

14. Sign up to shape UK learning disability policy

15. Organise your own fundraising event for a local learning disability charity; even better, involve people with a learning disability in the organisation of the event

16. Support projects initiated by learning disability providers, Mencap for example. These projects will already involve people with a learning disability

17. Become a Shared Lives carer; invite someone with a learning disability to become a member of the family!

18. If you are in business, you might consider becoming a corporate sponsor of a learning disability provider

19. Ensure your legacy leaves a real impact; you might consider leaving a gift in your will

20. Support Mencap’s Learning Disability

Week. This is usually in the 3rd week of June, and there are so many ways to get involved!

21. Volunteering to support adults with a learning disability is a fabulous way of building their confidence (and yours!). This is brilliant for combatting the loneliness often experienced by people with a learning disability. Or are you in a position to offer a volunteering opportunity to someone with a learning disability?

22. Could you employ someone with a learning disability? The benefit to that individual will be profound! There are also incredible benefits to your business, too!

23. Why not join my Cheerleaders’ Person-centred Challenge from 13th February, where we will explore all these possibilities and more…

Is there anything you can think of which I may have missed off? Please feel free to leave a comment below ⬇️

I look forward to hopefully seeing you on the Cheerleader’s’ Challenge in February!

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