“Every person has a part to play in ending discrimination”
29th July 2022
Love4Life is a network for people with learning disabilities to make friends and find love. For many, the group offers a first opportunity to build connections with others.
However, more importantly, Love4Life provides a safe space for people with learning disabilities and autism to be themselves, among people who understand what it can be like to try and make friends and have relationships when you are disabled.
Love4Life member Tasha said: “Before I joined Love4Life I had so many problems. People would really stress me out and a lot of people were horrible to me. Now look what has happened to me, I have so many friends now. They care about me and like me for who I am.”
While Scope’s research on attitudes to disabled people made difficult reading, sadly it contained no surprises for us, or our members.
Scope’s research on attitudes towards disabled people showed that 9 out of 10 disabled people face discrimination, and 23% of disabled people avoid social gatherings due to negative behaviour towards them. This almost doubles for younger people aged 18-34. We spoke to Love4Life trustee Neil Taggert about the importance of Love4Life and the negative attitudes they experience every day.
Neil said: “Love4Life’s work is rooted in creating a safe space for people with learning disabilities and autism to build friendships and connections with other people. Love4Life does amazing work in helping its members overcome loneliness and isolation, but unless attitudes and behaviours in the community improve it will continue to be an uphill struggle.
“With 83% of our members saying they have made new friends because of Love4Life, and 92% of parents or carers saying their family member is happier, we know that networks such as Love4Life play a vital role in enabling people to do the things that many of us take for granted. Meeting up with friends, going on dates and building relationships. For many disabled people these vital aspects of ordinary life are so much harder to find and Love4Life offers them a lifeline.
“Scope’s research highlights the additional hurdles placed in the way of disabled people achieving what most of us take for granted and would regard as one of our basic human rights.
“The report shows that 90% of disabled people experience negative attitudes which impact on their daily lives, and this rises to 96% for disabled people aged 18-34. These shocking statistics cover people with all forms of disability. For people with a disability that is not immediately visible, discrimination can be even higher because of a lack of public understanding and awareness.
“Our Love4Life members are some of the most vulnerable people in society, and unfortunately many members will have faced discrimination similar to what has been found in Scope’s research.
“Every person has a part to play in ending discrimination for people with learning disabilities. From having a better understanding of the right language to use, to increased awareness of the behaviour which impacts so negatively on disabled people. But in the meantime, Love4Life networks offer a lifeline to autistic people and people with learning disabilities. We are currently running networks in Hampshire and parts of London, but we always want to reach more people.”
Love4Life member Grace said: “Love4Life gives me the courage to do all the things I love, singing, acting and writing. And I have so many friends now. It does amazing work.”