New research report published on Stay Up Late’s groundbreaking conference

An exploration of audience responses to Stay Up Late’s (un)Ordinary Conference – Guest blog by Amanda Fleg

Amanda carried out feedback research exploring audience responses to Stay Up Late’s (un)Ordinary conference held in March this year

My name is Amanda Fleg, and I am a graduate student studying at the University of Brighton. I was fortunate enough to work with Stay Up Late on a social research project as part of my postgraduate degree in Community Psychology. Stay Up Late organized the (un) Ordinary conference in March of 2019, which was an event where all the speakers had learning disabilities and shared stories about how they are leading ‘ordinary’ lives. Audience members included a variety of social care professionals, policy coordinators and other support staff and members of related fields. The purpose of the study was to explore the responses of social care professionals to the March conference, with a particular focus on the potential impact of this conference on their work. 

Following the conference, in March and April of  2019, phone interviews and online questionnaires were completed by social care professionals as well as other support staff and delegates who had attended the Stay Up Late (un) Ordinary conference. There were a total of 24 responses confidentially completed, nearly half of which provided contact details for follow-up phone interviews. In total, 8 phone interviews were conducted and focused on topics surrounding the conference that related to the research aims. The qualitative information obtained from the open ended questionnaire questions as well as phone interviews, was supplemented by the other quantitative data gathered via the questionnaire.

Thematic analysis was used to analyse the open ended responses and phone interviews. Thematic analysis is a method for identifying and reporting patterns within data as well as interpreting various aspects of the research topic (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The audience responses outlined a number of different ideas, from which three key areas of exploration were identified to help answer the research questions. The three key areas of exploration and corresponding research questions focused on- Attitudes: How the conference has shaped the thinking of the social care professionals, Strengths and Challenges: How this conference will make social care professionals listen more to people with learning disabilities, and The Future: How social care professionals will respond and make practical changes. 

Responses revealed several interesting findings. For example, all respondents (100%) indicated that overall they found attending the conference to be worthwhile. The overwhelming positive response to the conference is an indicator that more events of this kind are highly desired. In addition, the majority of respondents (83.3%) expressed that the conference was very valuable in advancing one’s understanding of the needs of those with learning disabilities. Community‐based approaches to mental health, center on principles relating to social justice and are focused on supporting communities to respond to their own needs (Prilleltensky, 2001). Listening to and valuing the needs of those with learning disabilities is crucial, and from the data above it is clear better understanding is achieved when those with learning disabilities are directly involved, encouraged to participate, share, and contribute their voice.  

A number of audience recommendations were suggested about the future of individuals who have learning disabilities. In addition to new project ideas, new ways of working and personal resolutions toward change, participants emphasized four crucial areas that should be focused on within our communities, that will ensure that people with learning disabilities lead healthier and more full lives: Support, inclusivity & accessibility, greater opportunity to share their voices, and public advocacy. Community psychologists seek to enhance quality of life for communities, individuals, and society through collaborative research and action (Dalton et al., 2007). There needs to be continued advocacy for and promotion of these types of events that focus on the wants and needs of individuals with learning disabilities as articulated by them.

A full copy of the report is available to download here

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. 2006. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 77-101.

Dalton, J.H., Elias, M.J. & Wandersman, A. 2007. Community psychology: linking Individuals and communities, 2nd, international student edn, Thomson Higher Education, Belmont, Calif.

Prilleltensky, I. 2001. Value-Based Praxis in Community Psychology: Moving Toward Social Justice and Social Action. American Journal of Community Psychology. [online] vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 747-778. [Accessed 9 May 2019] Available from:

Amanda Fleg

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