About Learning Disabilities

The Governments’s 2001 white paper titles ‘Valuing People’ - ‘New strategy for learning disability in the 21st century’ states that:- 

‘People with learning disabilities are amongst the most socially excluded     and vulnerable groups in Britain today. Very few have jobs, live in their own homes or have real choice over who cares for them. Many have few friends outside their families and those paid to care for them. Their voices are rarely heard in public’.

There are approximately 1.2million people living with a learning disability in the UK this is set to rise by 1% each year to:-

  • Longer life expectancy for people with Downs Syndrome and children and young people with learning disabilities surviving in to adulthood. 

  • A rise in reported number of children and young people with learning disabilities which fall under the remit of the autistic spectrum


Learning disabilities are life-long and can make life a challenge.  Support needed, can range from having 1-2-1 support, supporting respite for family or enabling access to services and opportunities that meet their needs.   Support might be needed in order for the person to live with as much independence and choice as possible. They do not define the person however. 

Learning disabilities are often just one aspect of a wider condition, or number of conditions, including other disabilities.  For example, people with Down’s Syndrome or lower spectrum autism; will likely present with a number of different symptoms, with a learning disability being just one of them. 

Learning disabilities affect people in differing ways; which is often described as the learning disability continuum.  People with a mild learning disability are often independent in caring for themselves and carrying out everyday tasks, while people with a profound learning disability will likely have considerable difficulty in communicating and very limited understanding. 

Discrimination, bullying, social isolation and poor health throughout their lives often go hand in hand with learning disability; are often victims of  cuckooing and can unwittingly get involved in and are often the victims of hate crime or experience miscarriages of justice. There is often a lack of opportunities for this group of people and their needs are often neglected; our project addresses many of these challenges, on a daily basis, by working with them and their families helping them to live the life they choose.

Therefore it’s important to take a person-centred approach to supporting anyone with a learning disability, seeing the whole person rather than focusing on any one aspect of their life.  BOLD exists to support people with learning disabilities to live the best lives possible.