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Unit for Stigma Research


Sharing initiatives and insights


Launch of the UCL Unit for Stigma Research (UCLUS) Friday 16th February 2018 – Morning Session: Evidence Based Ways of Tackling Intellectual Disability Stigma| By Kristina Fenn

By ucjulpo, on 7 March 2018

Paul Davies, Co-Chair

Katrina Scior, UCLUS Director, and Paul Davies, Self-Advocate working for the -Elfrida Society, welcomed everyone and shared the vision of UCLUS: to enhance our understanding of stigma and evidence based ways to challenge it  this through research. Katrina introduced work that demonstrates the multiple ways stigma affects people with intellectual disabilities and their families,  and made explicit the link between negative stereotypes, reduced opportunities, discrimination, and other negative outcomes.

A “can” attitude, rather than frequent deep-seated ‘can’t assumptions, to what people with intellectual disabilities can accomplish was emphasised and the importance of targeting stigma at multiple levels

Oonagh Smyth, Katrina Scior & Paul Davies

Oonagh Smyth, Director of Strategy and Influence at Mencap, spoke about Mencap’s work in challenging stigma and discrimination at the institutional level.  Notably, the legacy of historical negative social attitudes continues to affect public policy, legislation and resources.  The impact of this on the everyday lives of people with learning disabilities too often means exclusion from the benefits of full membership in society. Taking a detailed look at health, we heard about shocking inequalities including higher rates of avoidable deaths of people with intellectual disabilities.  Mencap’s Treat Me Well campaign was launched on 15th February 2018, campaigning for high quality training of health care professionals to increase knowledge and empathy.  Find out more at: https://www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-mencap/current-campaigns/treat-me-well

Deborah Odukoya and Winnie Chege, Clinical Psychologists and UCLUS alumni, shared their research on tackling stigma using an e-intervention in Kenya and Nigeria.  They developed a film-based intervention which provided education about intellectual disability and first person accounts by local people about their experiences.  Making the film involved liaison with local experts and on-governmental organisations to ensure cultural appropriateness and relevance.  Participants who watched the film reported more favourable attitudes, suggesting that, despite evidence of poor internet connectivity, online platforms are an appropriate and acceptable way to deliver change interventions in Africa.

Intellectual Disability: Stepping Out from the Margins in Nigeria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MpipkGk9Zs

Intellectual Disability: Stepping Out from the Margins in Kenya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSi_DJxGPrs



Sophie FitzGerald, Clinical Psychologist and UCLUS alumnus, and Kate Oldroyd, Young People Programme Manager at Mencap, spoke about changing attitudes within schools.  Mencap’s All In Award promotes positive contact between young people with and without intellectual disabilities.  The award focuses on shared experiences, with children learning new activities together, such as first aid.  An independent evaluation carried out by Sophie FitzGerald and Katrina Scior shows that the award increases acceptance of peers  with intellectual disabilities and self-efficacy about interacting in children without disabilities.  Discussion with the audience considered barriers to and ways of engaging mainstream schools in participating in the award.

Sophie FitzGerald & Kate Oldroyd



Lisa Richardson, Research Associate with UCLUS, Richard Keagan-Bull and Jane Abraham, from Lambeth Learning Disabilities Assembly, spoke about the Standing Up For Myself (STORM) Programme, developed by a group of researcher, clinicians, self-advocate and third sector workers led by Katrina Scior.  STORM draws on cognitive behaviour therapy, narrative approaches and liberation  psychology to help people with intellectual disabilities manage and resist stigma.

The programme uses first-hand testimonials by people with intellectual disabilities, with each session focused around videos of people talking about their experiences, followed by group discussions.  Group members then make action plans of things they would like to do differently, such as taking up new hobbies, engaging with self-advocacy, or educating others about intellectual disability.  Initial feedback suggests positive changes in self-esteem, self-confidence, and mental wellbeing in people who have taken part in the programme.

Richard and Jane told the audience what it was like to participate in STORM.  They stressed that group members supporting each other had been important in achieving their action plans and having fun together.

Richard Keagan-Bull, Jane Abraham & Lisa Richardson


Kate Oldroyd, Sophie FitzGerald,, Jane Abraham, Richard Keegan-Bull and Lisa Richardson

Deborah Odukoya, Katrina Scior, Winnie Chege and Oonagh Smyth

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