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New Relationships Workshops for people with Learning Disabilities and Autism

Guideposts has started its first series of online Fear-less workshops this week, exploring relationships to enable people with learning disabilities and autism to feel more confident and be safer in their lives.  

The Fear-less project addresses the needs of adults with learning disabilities and autism: offering activities, support and training that can help them make better informed choices to live safer and happier lives in their communities.

What is the Fear-less course for?

Many adults with learning disabilities and autism would like to form romantic relationships but are afraid of this unknown area, or are lacking in social skills or confidence.

There is also evidence (Loneliness and Cruelty, 2012, Hyun et al 2014, Life without Fear 2018) that people with learning disabilities and autism are more likely to be the victims of crime or influenced to commit crimes as a result of social isolation, loneliness, difficulty with communication, or lack of understanding about appropriate relationships.

Learning about relationships plays a vital part in addressing these issues. The Fear-less workshops provide training that helps improve understanding of relationships and how to make safe choices, including:

  • personal feelings
  • boundaries
  • social skills
  • rights and responsibilities including in romantic relationships
  • and that is it okay to speak out.
Learning about Relationships

The participants in the first course have already received one-to-one and group sessions to help the individuals feel comfortable to take part. The course now comprises six workshops, each followed by a discussion group. All sessions are running online, enabling people to participate from any location.

Fear-less is a unique service to ensure people with learning disabilities and autism can access the skills and learning support they need to make lasting relationships, make informed decisions and avoid falling into difficulties.

Where did the idea of a relationships workshop come from?

The idea originally started as part of Mates’n’Dates, our in-person service in Oxfordshire giving people with learning disabilities the opportunity to build friendships and relationships in a safe environment with support around them. Fear-less has brought this into a structured course to equip people in any area with these vital skills for their lives.

Learning Disability Trainer Jo Mowat said “The learning disability community use Facebook and internet dating sites a lot. Many will be proactive in trying to find a relationship but may not be doing it in the safest way because they haven’t been given the tools to protect themselves online. The skills we teach in Fear-less will help the participants become capable of protecting themselves against abuse.”

Course participant Annsofi said “Fear-less project is brilliant fun, and we learn new things every Wednesday which is great, I love it.”

To follow on from the workshops Guideposts also offers opportunities to develop supportive relationships, friendships and social networks in a safe and secure environment, through community activity and friendship schemes, and our Better Connected programme.

How can people join the next course?

The next series of Fear-less workshops will start in July. To book a place contact Guideposts on 07790 557587 or email anicholls@guideposts.org.uk.

fearless poster

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