By Dr. Claire Bates
As Supported Loving’s Founder I often get asked for advice on a vast variety of topics relating to sexuality and disability. I love to help wherever I can however I know that I am often not the expert on the topic they want advice on. My background is as an academic researcher in on this topic, I have worked as a therapist for adults with learning disabilities and I do a lot of training with support staff on how best to support people in this area. I am not an expert on harmful sexual behaviour, I have no experience of setting up dating agencies etc. However the true value of Supported Loving is we have around 500 members across the UK who come from such diverse backgrounds- psychologists, social workers, social care staff with different areas of expertise (autism, sensory impairments etc.), family members of people with a learning disability and/autism, dating agencies, trainers, NHS staff etc. and most importantly many people with learning disabilities and/ or autism who are experts in this area who provide a unique and valuable insight. At our quarterly Network meetings we share our expertise and offer advice but I know not everyone can make it to a meeting.
Choice Support has supported me to develop our own Supported Loving website http://www.supportedloving.org.uk and I wanted to make this as useful as possible to people who need advice and support so we decided to create a toolkit. I could have had a go at writing all the pages and got advice from members and it would have been ok BUT we wanted better than ok! Supported Loving is a collaboration – I always reinforce to members that they are all “Supported Loving” and therefore we needed a collaborative toolkit. Members were asked to share their expertise and write a page and I am so proud of what they have produced. However this is just the start! We want to grow and expand the toolkit- we encourage anyone who has an area of expertise to get in touch as we can add this to the growing body of pages! We tried, where possible, to ensure all pages were written with in consultation with people with learning disabilities to make sure it was not just lots of professionals and we are keen to expand this further in future pages. https://www.choicesupport.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/supported-loving/supported-loving-toolkit I hope you like the toolkit and find it useful. Please share across all your networks.
Dr. Claire Bates, Quality Analyst/ Researcher, Choice Support