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This part of the website is a resource for people working in organisations or positions that support people with learning disabilities including providers, advocates, local authority commissioners, and social workers. It shares the experiences of participants working in the field of learning disability support who took part in our research project.

The support providers we included were predominantly micro-enterprises (organisations with five or less full-time staff). Micro-enterprises have been shown in other research to deliver more personalised, innovative and valued support for a similar or lower cost than larger providers. However, they can find it hard to get started and to stay in business. We share the participants’ views about the conditions that are needed to sustain their support provision. These views include the learning that they have gained in tackling the challenges faced, and what more needs to be done by commissioners and others to reduce these challenges. Such lessons are relevant for all people working in the social care sector.

We also outline the conditions that are needed to help people with learning disabilities to ‘self-build’ fulfilling lives in their communities in the context of personalisation, and the role that people in the support sector can take.

In our research, we found that independence is not a personal attribute but rather the outcome of support and opportunities provided to people. If the latter is reduced, then people’s independence can be threatened.

It is important to acknowledge that we did not find examples of people deemed to have profound and multiple learning disabilities self-building their lives outside of services – particularly given the current obstacles and complex issues that they face. The findings we present are derived from organisations that are largely filling a gap in day provision for those that can benefit from personalisation in building a life for themselves, not by themselves. This group includes those who are typically deemed to have more mild and moderate learning and support needs.

Enabling people to self-build a life in the community is about supporting the following building blocks:

Supporting the support sector

This part of the resource focuses on the challenges that need to be addressed in sustaining the support sector and the conditions needed to support organisations that are facilitating people to self-build community lives.

Providing community focused support

This part of the resource focuses on what organisations have been doing to enable people to build the capacity to self-build their lives in their communities, and the role that local authority commissioners can play in supporting and leveraging these activities.