|‘Sense’ is a British charity that supports deaf-blind people.
For a research, Sense has interviewed people with disabilities about feeling lonely.
This is because it is difficult for people with disabilities to make and keep friendships,
Therefore, Sense has started a campaign called ‘We All Need Friends’.
Sense also wants more people to know about disabilities,
23% of people with disabilities living in the UK regularly feel lonely. This is the conclusion of a recent survey conducted by ‘Sense’, a British charity supporting deaf-blind people. As a result of this, the organization created a campaign called ‘We All Need Friends’. With this initiative, Sense wants to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to make friends and to be able to keep them.
The ‘We All Need Friends’-campaign strives for a public debate concerning loneliness and people with disabilities. Additionally, it also urges local services to create more opportunities for people with disabilities to make friends.
In many cases, a lack of means prevents people with disabilities from having a normal social life.
Hayley reed, for example, a wheelchair user from Lancashire, says that her social care budget is just enough to finance her much-needed medical and practical assistance. Little money is left for socializing: ‘If I want to go to the pub, I have to pay somebody to take me, or friends have to come to my house,’ she says.
However, it is not only a matter of creating accessible environments or investing more money. The general perception on communication and friendships with people with disabilities should apparently also be adjusted:
Research of the Disability Charity Scope has shown that 67% of British citizens feel uncomfortable when talking to someone with a disability. Additionally, it was stated that one fifth of 18 to 34-year-olds have refrained from speaking to a disabled person because of not knowing exactly how to communicate with him/her.
Therefore, Sense also wants to raise awareness and increase general knowledge and understanding of the situation in which people with disabilities find themselves in. As Jack Howes, a British national with autism says, ‘Friendships don’t just fall into your pocket, but I think making friends would be easier for me if people knew more about autism’.
Spokesperson for Sense, Richard Kramer said that ‘while there has been extensive analysis around loneliness and older people -as their circle of friends reduce over time-, our work shows that many disabled people have very few opportunities to make friends in the first place. He continues by stating that Disabled people need to be visible, be allowed to play a full part in society and be given the same opportunities to make friends as everyone else.
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