People with a learning disability and their families attended a ‘Black Moon Disco’ for adults with a learning disability in Londonderry recently as part of Mencap’s Learning Disability Week.
The new Black Moon Disco, which was held at the Waterside Theatre, was a great night’s crack that gave people the chance to meet new friends and have fun in a safe and positive environment.
The aim of Mencap’s Learning Disability Week is to highlight the barriers people with a learning disability can face when making friendships and relationships - and what causes almost one in three people with a learning disability to spend less than one hour a day outside their homes on a Saturday.
Friends Emma and Clare love the disco and getting out to meet people.
Emma said: “Clare and I have been friends for a long time and our friendship means the world to me.
“We work together as well as hang out so we get to see each other a lot. Black Moon Disco gives us a chance to dance and have fun and meet new people.”
Marie McGale, Mencap Community Engagement Manager said: “Friendships are really important for people with a learning disability and social Isolation is a problem.
“The best way we can tackle this is to increase opportunities for people with a learning disability to get out and interact with their local community.
“We want people to use this week as a chance to think differently about learning disability.”
Louise Boyce, Inclusion and Access Officer, Derry and Strabane City Council said: “The Black Moon Disco started in January this year and has been supported by Public Health Agency.
“It has become a monthly favourite for adults with a learning disability in the City and surrounding district.”
Ms Boyce added: “Friendships and relationships are important to all of us and even more so for people who due to their disability may experience loneliness or become socially isolated.”
There are 33,000 people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland.
Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.
Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities - for example household tasks, socialising or managing money - which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people.
The level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability.
Learning disability is not a mental illness.
The term learning difficulty is often incorrectly used interchangeably with learning disability.