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Friendships and ways to keep safe


Social isolation is a huge issue for people with a learning disability. Mencap’s theme this year for Learning Disability week is ‘Make a new friend.’

In preparation for Learning Disability Week, Ruth and Kathy from the Housing team in the South organised an event for our tenants on ways to safely make friends in the local community, at home and online. Most of the tenants who came to the event said they use Facebook and other social media channels.

Ruth said, “We work closely with the local authority in the North Somerset area and decided this would be a great place to focus on during this important week. We wanted a fun event that everyone could join in.”

“Our tenants love living in North Somerset and have great support workers who also came along,” said Kathy. “We held it at a local Youth Centre in Portishead near Bristol as most of our invited tenants could get there easily, including some who walked there as it was such a lovely sunny day!”

Sixteen people enjoyed a great interactive session. We used emoji cushions to talk about ‘what a friend is’ and ‘how to be safe’ – each person who caught a cushion talked about friendships, who made them angry or sad and which of their friends they loved and why.

Michelle who lives on her own explained, “I liked it that I am allowed to say no when I feel uncomfortable about something.”

Kathy and Ruth did some role play. Everyone joined in by holding up their emoji cards to show whether the person in the scenario represented a good friend, not a good friend or if they were unsure.

Michelle who lives near a seaside town told everyone, “I liked to think about whether some friends are good or pretend friends.”

After a lovely lunch everyone settled down to watch a video on making friends.

Tom who enjoys living in a shared house said, “I really enjoyed meeting up with new friends.”

Photos from the event

You can download some of the photos taken during the friendship event.