Our Social Networks: Capturing the nature of friendship and intimacy for people with learning disabilities

Husband and wife standing in front of an exhibition of their relationship W
Husband and wife, Angela and Adam. Credit: Mencap Cymru  W

Heritage Grants

Cardiff, Wales
Royal Mencap Society
This Mencap Cymru project captured the history and nature of friendships and relationships experienced by people with a learning disability in Wales. W

‘Our Social Networks’ collected the stories of friendships and relationships of 60 people with a learning disability through conversations with them, their friends, romantic partners or family members. W

Did different age groups have different experiences?

The three-year project focused mainly on the stories of two age groups – people aged 18 to 25 years old and those aged 45 and over – and explored whether the experience of the two groups was different.

‘Our Social Networks’ involved a range of people with a learning disability including those with one-to-one support, those with limited or no formal support and those living with parents or other family members.

Empowering people with learning disabilities

The contributors themselves were empowered to decide how their stories were going to be told and how they would be represented at 80 ‘Our Social Networks’ public exhibitions and pop-up events around the country.

Snakes and ladders game with heart-design cards
A Snakes & Ladders game played at one of the exhibitions: it mirrors the experiences people with learning disabilities may have when navigating sexual or intimate relationships. Credit: Mencap Cymru 

The project recruited three ‘ambassadors’ and a project officer with a learning disability and 60 volunteers were trained to help deliver it.

A mobile app was also launched so that people could access the stories that had been collected and they are also part of the People’s Collection Wales

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