L'Arche believes in the power of relationships to transform the lives of those whose deepest suffering is not their disability but their experience of isolation and loneliness.

Here in the UK the greatest need of adults with learning disabilities is for friendship and community. Leaving the school system, people with learning disabilities often do not have the skills and resources to develop their own circle of friends and for many, the only people they see in a day are people who are paid to be with them. In many cases that support is failing at a fundamental level because it does not meet one of the most important needs of all - the need to belong.

  • 50% of people with a learning disability experience chronic loneliness, compared to 15-30% of the general population (Mencap);
  • 41% of adults with a learning disability do not have more than yearly contact with family they do not live with (Mencap);
  • Almost a third of young people with a learning disability leave their homes for less than an hour on an average Saturday because of a fear of public attitudes. (Mencap);
  • 65% of people with autism stated that they would like more social interaction (National Autistic Society);
  • 59% of adults with autism find it difficult to make friends (National Autistic Society);
  • Nearly a quarter of people with a learning disability asked said they have no friends (National Autistic Society);
  • 93% of people with learning disabilities (in 2012) said they felt lonely and/or isolated (Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities)

L'Arche celebrates people with learning disabilities and in doing so creates places of belonging where some of the most vulnerable people can lead full lives and contribute to society.

However, our impact is not just felt by the people we support, their families, and friends. L’Arche can also be a life changing experience for the many people, often at the beginning of their adult lives, who come to live and work in our Communities. The formation they receive, alongside the intense experience of community and disability, often informs the rest of their lives.

L’Arche in the UK receives funding from the state for its service provision, but there is a significant gap between what we are funded to do and what we want to deliver. What we receive does not cover the essential formation of assistants, or our outreach work which enables people with learning disabilities to contribute to society. We bridge this gap through a mixture of fundraising, voluntary help, and cost cutting.

Internationally, L'Arche works in partnership with local groups of people with and without learning disabilities to create communities, often in countries where little or no state funding exists. We make a lasting difference to the lives of more than 3,750 people with learning disabilities worldwide. At the same time we welcome more than 3,000 new people each year to work and live in communities, offering them a unique formation experience.

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