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Combating cruelty, harassment and abuse against people with learning disabilities.

Action Against Cruelty – a new Lemos&Crane website due to launch in the coming months - is a product of our Voice and Community project with the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Association. The project aims to tackle cruelty towards people with learning disabilities, cultivate supportive communities and encourage positive social relationships and improved social and emotional wellbeing.

Last year we published Loneliness and Cruelty, People with learning disabilities and their experiences of harassment, abuse and related crime in the community, which uncovered the appalling frequency with which people with learning disabilities are subject to cruelty, crime or abuse in the community. The report also revealed how many people with learning disabilities, despite valuing their independence, feel vulnerable and lonely.

Action Against Cruelty is a proactive response to these troubling findings. The site is a guidance and networking resource website for practitioners involved in the care and day to day lives of people with learning disabilities and – via an accessible sister-site - for people with learning disabilities themselves.  It covers everything from safeguarding, prevention and support to criminal and civil proceedings and aftercare, as well as all aspects of cruelty including 'low-level' harassment, exploitative friends and physical, institutional and sexual abuse. Action Against Cruelty will present in one place the important legislation, procedures and practice for safeguarding, responding to and managing cruelty and hate crime,  alongside examples of good practice and innovation across the country. The site is also a platform upon which practitioners from a range of services and organisations dealing with the support and care for adults with learning disabilities can interact to ask questions or discuss issues and to share knowledge and good practice.

The accessible site provides focussed information and guidance on what to do if you find yourself victim to cruelty of any form, how to recognise good friends and exploitative ones, how to help your friends through the experience of cruelty, reporting cruelty and how to keep yourself safe. In addition, a group of adults with learning disabilities are working with the FPLD to develop accessible guidance on topics such as keeping yourself safe online, which will be incorporated into the accessible site alongside third-party resources covering relationships and social circles, the justice system and responding to cruelty.

Central to the project is its emphasis on cooperative effort and collective strength - as opposed to vulnerability and fear. The focus on building supportive communities and positive relationships ensures the message is not restrictive and paternalistic but positive and liberating.

More information on the background to ActionAgainstCruelty can be found on this blog post.

Action Against Cruelty is due to go live within the next few months and will be accessible via the Lemos&Crane homepage. The site has been developed working with the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, a reference group of adults with learning disabilities and a research group of practitioners from related organisations, and supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Loneliness and Cruelty can be downloaded for free here.

For more information about the website or project, email sarahf@lemosandcrane.co.uk

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