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Buckinghamshire Council and Talkback UK’s Safety Hub for Learning Disabilities

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Council, in collaboration with Talkback UK, has announced the launch of the Stay OK Website.

Back in 2020, Talkback was commissioned by Buckinghamshire Council to conduct a study into the relationship between Domestic Abuse (DA) and learning disabilities and/or autism. The study was conducted using a combination of desk research and interviews with stakeholders, both within and outside Buckinghamshire.

The specific brief was to establish the nature and scale of DA issues for people with learning disabilities and/or autism, both as victims and perpetrators. Also, to identify how services are provided for learning disabilities and/or autism in relation to DA.

The resultant Talkback report, ‘Hidden Hurts’, made a series of recommendations. Three of these reflected the need for a repository where healthy relationship information could be easily found and understood.

  1. There needs to be greater awareness of what abuse is, and greater awareness of how to report it, among the learning disability community. This needs to extend to all in the community, particularly those living independently and potentially not currently in contact with learning disability services.
  2. More education in the learning disability community on all aspects of safe (and unsafe) relationships, from sex education to financial management – and what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour.
  3. To support the above, a toolkit of resources needs to be created. There are already many available resources to put into that toolkit. Others may need to be created, following a thorough review of what currently exists.

The concept followed to establish an easy-read website for those who have a learning disability and/or autism.

It is designed to provide information and guidance on staying safe whilst at home, and out and about in the community. It covers a range of topics – such as healthy relationships, exploitation and grooming, online safety, and hate crime. Statistics show that people with learning disabilities are more likely to be victims of these crimes, yet there is a lack of easy-to-read information available to them.

To keep the website interesting, there are quizzes, videos and games, all designed to keep people safe. The website is split into two sections – one completely easy read, the other a resources toolkit for parents, carers and professionals.

Buckinghamshire Council and Talkback UK's Safety Hub for Learning DisabilitiesThe website was designed by Buckinghamshire Council in partnership with Talkback. Talkback is a local charity that supports people aged 16 or older with a learning disability and/or autism. Focus groups from Talkback were used to test and choose all aspects of the website, down to the name and the colour palette. The funding was provided by the Thames Valley Domestic Abuse Co-ordinators.

Ruth Hemsley of Buckinghamshire Council said:

“I’m really pleased that it’s been shared so far and wide. We’ve sent it to many teams, including Health, Education, SEND, Social Care, GPs, Domestic Abuse Specialists, Libraries, Thames Valley Police… I think it’s gone a bit viral! The site can also be accessed via the Talkback Advice Bureau.”

Although some of the resources on the Parents, Carers and Professionals portal are for users in the Thames Valley area, the easy-read information is mostly generic and the content could apply nationally. Over time the site will evolve as we receive feedback from users, and we will continually strive to improve it.

This valuable resource is the result of a successful collaboration between Buckinghamshire Council and Talkback UK, with special thanks to Ruth Hemsley, Faye Blunstone and Caroline Morris.

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