Love, relationships and learning disabilities – report back from Stay Up Late workshop

Love, relationships and learning disabilities – report back from Stay Up Late workshop

Love was in the air at the Stay Up Late offices recently as we played host to a workshop on relationships. The workshop was led by University of Brighton masters student Amanda Fleg. We’d already worked with Amanda previously when she analysed the feedback from social care professionals following our well-received (un)Ordinary Conference earlier this year. At the workshop art and creativity combined with discussion and personal experiences to produce a wonderfully supportive atmosphere for people to share their thoughts about love and relationships when you have a learning disability.

Amanda comments: “I wanted to host a creative workshop about love and relationships for individuals with learning disabilities for my masters dissertation because I feel it is a topic that isn’t always openly discussed but should be. Love is universal and I wanted to discuss attitudes about love and relationships and about experiences with love as well as future romantic desires directly with people who have learning disabilities. Art was used as a creative method for stimulating discussion and also as a means of expression.”

“Having a learning disability provides a unique perspective and the workshop acted as a space to explore those perspectives and share thoughts and feelings. The open discussions offered insight into how love is experienced by individuals with learning disabilities. Hearing from individuals with learning disabilities about what they want and need in creating loving and meaningful relationships, clarifies how to further support them in their search for love and companionship.”

“The creative workshop provided an open space to create art and discuss love. I hope participants had a positive experience and were able to share their unique perspectives. Participants were invited to share their feelings about love openly, while furthering a greater understanding of love and learning disabilities, thus I feel the symbiotic vision of the workshop was achieved. I look forwards to more events like this one in the future.”

Andrew Walker, one of the participants in the workshop, found it very positive experience: “In the relationships group I could talk to people about how I feel. I got to get things off my chest. I didn’t feel shy. I overcame a few barriers and feel happier.”

Rohan Lowe was similarly enthusiastic: “It was an interesting experience taking part in the workshop. It is one of those topics that often gets pushed aside. Relationships often comes up as an area that needs a bit more work when doing the learning disability support services quality visits that I complete as part of the Stay Up Late quality checking team.”

Thanks Amanda for running such a worthwhile event for us – we look forward to reading your research!

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