20-24 June is Learning Disability Awareness Week!

15 June 2022

From 20 – 24 June, it's Learning Disability Awareness Week and we have a jammed packed week of activities planned, culminating in the Southampton Mayor planting a ceremonial rose to honour those with a learning disability, alongside those who care for them.

This year’s theme for the awareness week is ‘living life with a learning disability’ and those people working in and using Southern Health’s learning disability services are the perfect example of living life to the full! Here are just some of the activities planned…

A busy schedule of free online workshops and talks open to all those living with a learning disability and their carers. Sign up to as many workshops as you like by emailing Helen.Fielding@southernhealth.nhs.uk. Workshops include:

  • 1-2pm Monday 20 June: A Makaton workshop (focused on helpful signs and sentences for visiting your GP, and talking about illness and health)
  • 10am and 1pm Tuesday 21 June: two Annual Health Check workshops (exploring why it’s important to have a health check)
  • 10am, 1pm and 4pm Wednesday 22 June: three diet and exercise workshops (the first led by a dietitian on healthy eating, the second by an occupational therapist with some breathing exercises if you’re feeling anxious and how to create a plan to change bad habits. And the third led by a dance artist from Dance Syndrome to learn some dance routines!
  • 10am and 2pm Thursday 23 June: two wellbeing workshops – one on how art therapy can support you and your carer and the other about how physiotherapy can help you (including 10 minutes’ gentle exercise)
  • 11am and 1pm Friday 24 June: workshops about the Learning Disability Friendly GP Project (the morning session is for carers and the afternoon one is for people with a learning disability).

Southern Health’s Learning Disability Experience Team (made up of service users) will be proudly representing the NHS Trust at an event on Monday in Gosport to help local GP services improve their care for people with a learning disability and or autism. The team will help GPs understand the challenges and barriers to healthcare that are unique to this group of patients.

A young 19-year-old service user called Sadie has created a fantastic animation about her experience of living with autism and how Southern Health has supported and signposted her to services which can further support her. You can encourage her creative endeavours by watching her 2-minute video here: https://youtu.be/RitHtIRqNO0

The West Hampshire team is running an art competition amongst talented service users to draw, paint or take a photo of their favourite place to visit – with the artwork being displayed throughout Learning Disability Awareness Week and a prize for the overall winner.

And finally, the Mayor of Southampton is visiting the Southampton learning disability team on Friday 24 June to plant a rose in the Thomas Lewis House gardens, marking the end of the week-long celebrations. Celebrating both Learning Disability Awareness Week and also the recent Carers Week, the invitation-only event is dedicated to those with learning disabilities and those that care for them – the rose being a symbol of unity when staff, carers and service users all work together.

Southern Health’s Head of Learning Disability Services, Brian Murtagh, explained: “We have a packed schedule of events during Learning Disability Awareness Week with plenty of opportunity for those who use our services to really shine and showcase how they are ‘living life’ to the fullest – whether it be through their creativity or their contribution to improving learning disability healthcare services for others. For those not already involved in the week-long celebrations, we would urge them (and those caring for them) to join one of our fantastic online workshops!”


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