Friends and family are important because it’s good to have someone to rely on and support you. Having someone to socialise with means you’re not cooped up at home by yourself all the time, and you don’t get lonely. Friends and family can count on each other in their hour of need, listen to each other, and advise each other to get through their problems.

People with a learning disability need friends and relationships just as much as anyone else but sometimes they aren’t so lucky. Sometimes people with a learning disability can be isolated and often the only people around them are people who are paid to look after them. I think this is because sometimes people have bad attitudes that make them forget that people with a learning disability are human beings.

I’m pretty lucky because I’m really close with my family. My mum lives just across the road and we see each other and talk every day. I’m also very lucky to be married to someone I can count on who has the same interests as me. My wife and I have been married many years and we listen to one another and love each other. She’s there for me day and night and we spent most of our time together. We’re two peas in a pod and I feel like our hearts are one.

My wife and I have two children. When my first child was born, it was just unbelievable. I couldn’t believe how fast it happened – one minute my wife was pregnant and the next minute I was holding my son in my arms. My wife’s love didn’t fade after she gave birth; it just grew. My older son and I have a lot of the same interests, we like comedies and we watch Sci-Fi films together. I love watching TV with my sons. The time I spend with my children when they come home from school is really precious to me and it makes our bond strong. We’re very close.

The bond I have with my friends is special – it’s not something you can explain, it’s just something you feel. Even though I see my friends less often than my family, we’re still close because we have the same interests and we do loads of activities together, like going to the cinema, going bowling, or just going out for a meal to a local restaurant. I’m lucky to have two old school friends nearby that I see once a week, but I have a very close friend at work called Dean who I talk to a lot. He’s genuine, funny, and he’s a good practical joker, but sometimes he forgets what jokes he’s told me. He once told me the same joke 6 times! I really enjoy spending time with Dean. Tuesday is his day off, so we often use that day to go out and meet up with some of our old colleagues, which is really special.

I also have a lot of friends in Morocco because that’s where my family are from. Unfortunately, I only get to see them once a year when I go to Morocco on holiday, but we all speak once a week on social media when I’m in the UK. Having friends in Morocco means my holidays are never boring. We play dominoes, Jenga, Connect 4 and other games. Sometimes they try to distract me so they can beat me, but it doesn’t work very often!

I may have a learning disability, but my family and friends see me as a person, not a label. I know in that sense I’m luckier than most because I have people I can depend on and I’m never left out. Because of this, I’m grateful I have supportive people around me. Friendships and relationships are like seeds that help us grow as people and become better as one. People with a learning disability should never be afraid to make new friends or look for love, because everyone deserves to share a bond with someone.

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