The latest findings from the Office for National Statistics which highlight the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of people with a disability, with over a third (35%) of disabled adults reporting spending too much time alone compared to 19.9% of non-disabled adults.
Furthermore, almost 1 in 10 adults with a disability reported often or always feeling lonely in the last seven days, compared with less than 1 in 20 non-disabled adults.
The findings also showed that almost half (45%) of disabled adults said they are very worried about the effect that COVID-19 is having on their life compared with around a third (30%) of non-disabled adults, and nearly two-thirds (65%) reported that concerns around COVID-19 are affecting their well-being.
Edel Harris, CEO of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:
"People with a learning disability already face extreme levels of social isolation and loneliness – they are seven times more likely to feel lonely than the general population – and the coronavirus crisis is only exacerbating this. It is shocking to see that over a third of disabled people are spending too much time alone during lockdown, we know that for people with a learning disability this picture is likely to be even worse. The closure of day services, loss of routine, difficulties staying in touch with family and keeping active means that they are struggling to cope, and we know from our work that it’s having a negative impact on their wellbeing, health and mental health.
“At Mencap we are trying hard to fill that gap. We have boosted capacity on our helpline, created an easy-read information and advice hub on our website and launched Mencap TV, an online TV channel with instructional and fun videos for people to watch and follow along at home. Our extraordinary support workers are working extremely hard in challenging circumstances to create a sense of normality and community - holding discos in living rooms and building shops in garden shed. They are the only contact some people have.
"But only a small proportion of the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK receive social care support and there is a real risk that more people might slip though the net with tragic consequences as the Care Act easements come into force. The Government must make sure that the emergency funding that is so desperately needed gets to frontline support services so that everyone, including people with a learning disability, can get the support they need to stay safe and well during this crisis.”
For further information contact Mencap’s media team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).
For advice and information on learning disability, including advice on coronavirus and accessing support services in your local area, please contact Mencap’s freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email email@example.com.
Notes to editors
There is approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.
Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want and also campaigns to change laws, improve services and challenge negative attitudes towards people with a learning disability.
What is a learning disability?
- A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;
- Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;
- People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.