We have been supporting this year’s Learning Disability Week (15 to 21 June 2020), with a focus on the importance of friendships during lockdown.

People with a learning disability are more likely to experience loneliness and social isolation and this may have been made worse by the lockdown according to the national charity Mencap, who are behind the national week. They want to raise awareness of the importance of friendships to help tackle social isolation, as well as exploring the different ways of maintaining friendships during this unusual time.

Friendships are known to help people feel happier, included, and valued, and enhance wellbeing. But for people with a learning disability, opportunities to participate in their community, meeting people and develop friendships can be more difficult – and even more so during these times.

Maria Nelligan, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust said: 

“Learning Disability Week is important in helping us to raise the profile of this significant and important area of our work, but I am determined that we will do everything we are able to do, each and every day, to support a group of people who experience significant health inequalities.

As a Learning Disability Nurse, it is an area of nursing I have always been passionate about and I have contributed to this agenda for many years. I know the team here at the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and in the wider system, are equally passionate and determined and together to make a difference. Together we will lead the way, by providing the highest quality services with people and their families right at the centre of our work.”

You can find out how Maria is keen to reduce discrimination, the difference Learning Disability Nurses make and what it takes to be a LD Nurse in this video.