Langdon has now tragically lost three of its cherished members during the COVID crisis and they will live long in our memories. They were people who were part of a community that went to college, worked, lived and socialised together. They found friendships and confidantes where they could not find it anywhere else. They were deeply valued and appreciated for what they contributed to the Langdon community.
Their full stories, however, will not be widely known because they were not given the opportunity to live their lives to the full and because they only represent a tiny group of individuals amongst 50,000 plus people who have lost their lives over the past few weeks.
The story that is not heard, as the response to the pandemic has been focused on care homes for older people, is that in just over a month 386 people with a learning disability, some of whom may also be autistic, who were receiving care from support providers have died. This is a 134% increase in the number of death notifications this year.
It brings into sharp focus that people of working age who have a disability are also very much at risk, particularly of respiratory illness. As the rollout of the testing programme has not been responsive to the needs of people with a learning disability, nor supportive of the services they receive, once again we are reminded that they are not a priority.
Our members’ voices are dim in the cacophony of noise as organisations compete for resources. Their families have had to fight for the right support and worry every day that this support will be available, safe and quality in nature.
So why should they have to fight so hard for their voice to be heard, for their presence to be valued and why do families have to anticipate that they will have to fight for their kin for the rest of their lives? While well above 40% of Langdon members are in paid employment, only 7% of learning disabled adults across the country have the opportunity to do so.
Langdon members are full of vigour and vitality, they are creative and fun to be with, they have a lot to say and a lot to contribute, they believe in social justice and they have strong personal identities. They want to work, rest and play and they want to be given the opportunity to thrive and they want to live long and fulfilled lives.
Let’s make that a priority.