Possibilities for social inclusion and belonging
The seminar will present a critique of personalisation, the dominant discourse in social care and support in post-welfare states, including the UK and Australia. As many state sites of collective care are closed, and those that remain open are restricted to those with higher needs, many people with learning disabilities, along with their families and carers, are taking on responsibility for assembling, managing, and using a personal budget to pay for, their package of care. The new landscape of care and support is emerging is a mix of state, private and voluntary sector providers in a marketplace of services; new sites of specialist and mainstream care and support; and new sets of relationships. For many with learning disabilities, this has been a positive experience, with new choices and opportunities for activities, independent living and social inclusion. For others, the responsibility of devising a care plan and managing a budget, in an uncertain context of provision, has been challenging and isolating.
The seminar will consider how ongoing austerity is putting pressure on personalisation, with eligibility for funding tightened, the value of personal budgets reduced, and state and private providers facing financial difficulties. Governments are increasingly looking to the assets within local informal organisations and communities to ‘fill the gap’ left by declining formal services. There is evidence that some people with learning disabilities, with their families and advocacy organisations, in some cases supported by community connectors or Local Area Co-ordinators, are being proactive in reimagining and building innovative spaces, networks and relations of care and support (for example, arts centres, cafes, community gardens, and friendship clubs). Being involved in such community-based initiatives holds much promise for people with learning disabilities, not only to cope with austerity, but also more significantly to provide opportunities to become known, gain a social role and seek a sense of belonging in their local neighbourhood.
Ed Hall is a social geographer whose research with people with learning disability has spanned local area coordination, community belonging, and most recently, community safety. This seminar is presented as part of a visiting fellowship for the Australian Research Council project Relationships and Recognition between young people with disability and their paid support workers.
LISTEN to Ed Hall's seminar here