Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

1 The importance of work

While having a job may not be right for all people with learning disabilities, for many, it offers a number of potential benefits. As well as providing an income, work can give people a sense of purpose (‘a reason to get up in the morning’) and help them to make social connections. In the video below, listen to Phil Lee talking about a job his sister, Bernie, used to do, and why it was important to her.

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Transcript: Video 2

When she got into her teens and early 20s, she was at a centre. And they used to do industrial work. So I think it's what they used to call it.
A lot of people in the country actually did industrial work then, factory work. But Bernadette used to do a bit of that assemblies and that was then later frowned upon as demeaning for Down syndrome people. But actually, Bernadette never regarded it as that. She loved it.
And it's a self-worth thing because she could do that. And it also gave her and I another thing to talk about. My dad always use to quote a story. We were talking and I said to Bernadette, how have you been getting on at work? Because she used to make different things.
So, what have you been making this week? So we had a chat and that was nice. And then she said to me, what have you been doing at work today? So it gave us that common ground.
End transcript: Video 2
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Phil argues that the factory job was work that Bernie enjoyed. It also meant that she and Phil shared some ‘common ground’ and could talk together about their working day. However, when industrial work for people with learning disabilities fell out of favour, this job was taken from Bernie. As you will learn in this session, access to work for people with learning disabilities is often dependent on government policy and funding, and the attitudes of others.


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