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Unit for Stigma Research


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What’s so new about being in lockdown? | By Paul Richards, Director of Stay Up Late

m.osborne21 May 2021

Reflections on some of the current issues affecting people with learning disabilities and their far-reaching implications.


Information and advice

At the beginning of the first lockdown I was thinking about ‘Grant’ who lives near me. Grant has a learning disability and autism and lives with his elderly mother. Usually he spends a lot of his time walking around town, going to cafes. He is a well-known (and loved) character locally. I’m always running into him in all sorts of places around the city. I think he gets some sort of support but he and his mum aren’t online and don’t have much access to various local services for people with learning disabilities.

The first lockdown must have been an utterly bewildering event for him. It was for me I know but I at least had access to lots of information, a team and friends and family who I could share things with.

I often wondered what Grant made of the first lockdown when everything suddenly changed. At the start of the first lockdown it was confusing to find clear and simple information. My inbox bulged with information and guides and updates – and more updates, and easy read guides,  then easier to read guides came along –  there was too much being produced!!

What I really wanted was one place where we could access clear and concise guidance. The sort of information that I would have been able to share with Grant.


Stop MPs stigmatising people living in poverty

Katrina Scior31 October 2020


We as one of the UK’s leading research centres on stigma have started a petition calling on Government to introduce mandatory training for Members of Parliament (MPs) to help them understand what it’s like to be hard up and stop stigmatising people living in poverty. #Stopstigmatisingpoverty calls on the UK Government to introduce mandatory training for MPs, a week during which they are relieved of their parliamentary duties.  The ‘training’ would see each newly elected and all sitting MPs spend 1 week living alongside people in their constituency who are struggling to get by, on the equivalent of universal credit (around £95 at current rates). Members of the local constituency will lay on a programme of events to allow the MP an insight into some of the diverse concerns and stresses their constituents face, with a focus on those living in poverty.


The Covid-19 pandemic and people with learning disabilities: Celia and Adrian’s story | By Michaela Osborne and Celia and Adrian Brown

m.osborne13 October 2020

Video call with Adrian and Celia

Celia Brown (top left), Michaela Osborne and Adrian Brown

Please scroll to the bottom for an Easyread version

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the UK population to live in uncertainty, fear and isolation. A national and global emergency brings with it new challenges, but for people with learning disabilities, many of these challenges already exist as a result of unequal access to health, social care and education. A system that does not meet the needs of people with learning disabilities before a pandemic, is not well placed to meet them in the event of one.

The experiences of two self-advocates with learning disabilities, Adrian and Celia Brown, husband and wife, illustrate just this. Adrian and Celia shared their Covid-19- related story after coming through the other side safe and well. (more…)

Dehumanisation captured on the BBC: A Response | by Dan Goodley (iHuman) and Katrina Scior (UCLUS)

Katrina Scior23 May 2019

We are appalled at the BBC Panorama programme that was broadcast last night. Again, we are told stories of the violent abuse of people with learning disabilities. We share the feelings of disgust voiced on social media towards the individuals who enacted such horrendous acts against people described as ‘vulnerable’ in the programme. Yet, at the same time, we want to vent our spleens at the systemic violence inherent within our education, social care and health systems that reflect a wider dehumanisation of people with learning disabilities. We are not wanting to let care providers nor workers off the hook. But, we do want to highlight the ways in which we – as a society – that is * all of us * are complicit in the dehumanisation of people with learning disabilities. Savage cuts to services, the loss of policy debate in the stagnating pool that is Brexit, toothless legislation, rampant individualism, and keyboard warriors that seek easy answers to endemic problems: all of these problems need to be addressed. We need a radical overhaul of how we as a society understand people with learning disabilities.

We also want to reiterate what we’ve said elsewhere – making the voice of people with learning disabilities central to the debates that follow the post-Panorama outcry is a must and not an optional extra. Where on earth were the commentators with learning disabilities and autism sat in front of a laptop or stood in front of a big screen, invited to share their reaction? We personally know many self-advocates would have done a great job at this and shared their anger and disgust. We really, really hope their absence wasn’t the result of experts advising the BBC that this would be too traumatic for people with learning disabilities rather than offering to prepare them for an appearance. In any case, the decision to only show them being abused but not as people who should comment is powerful evidence of profound disablism in our society. It is a clear indication of deeply held beliefs in our society that people with learning disabilities cannot speak for themselves.

Dan Goodley is Professor of Disability Studies and Education at the University of Sheffield

The shocking case of Whorlton Hall or How has this been allowed to happen again? | by Katrina Scior

Katrina Scior22 May 2019

This evening yet another BBC Panorama programme was screened featuring undercover footage of people with learning disabilities being victimised and abused by those tasked with caring for them. Like many in the learning disability ‘community’, I watched with a sense of shock and despair as a whole number of care staff again and again taunted and assaulted the people in their care, apparently for their own entertainment. We were here before, when in May 2011 another Panorama programme showed adults with learning disabilities and autism being demeaned, repeatedly abused and assaulted at Winterbourne View. After said programme, there was a public outcry and the government held an enquiry, chaired by Sir Stephen Bubb, that led to the Transforming Care programme. A huge amount of work has gone into Transforming Care, aimed to achieve better lives for people with learning disabilities and to reduce the risk of infringements against their most fundamental human rights by those on whom they are dependent for daily support. Following a high-profile court case, six care workers were given prison terms for what the judge called “cruel, callous and degrading” abuse of the individuals in their care. So how is it possible that we are here again? Without providing an exhaustive list of the many complex reasons, in this blog I want to touch on a few. (more…)

Breaking the silence over receiving a dementia diagnosis | by Jem Bhatt and Katrina Scior

ucjulpo7 September 2018

Recently, Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell publicly modelled a deliberate and careful decision about ‘who to tell, how and when?’ about a diagnosis of dementia. In Dame Windsor’s case, over three years after receiving the initial diagnosis and sharing it in closer circles, the couple decided to tell the public via an interview with The Sun.  (more…)

The importance of self-advocacy and the voices of people with learning disabilities in challenging inequality- The Standing Up For Myself Programme | by Laurie Poole

ucjulpo20 June 2018

This week it is Learning Disability Week (18th – 24th June, 2018), and we are standing together with individuals, families, schools, colleges, and many other organisations across the country to speak up for the rights and needs of people with a learning disability.


In2gr8mentalhealth – Harriet Mills in conversation with Dr Natalie Kemp, CPsychol

ucjulpo22 May 2018


Dr Natalie Kemp CPsychol, is an active member of the HOP-MHP stakeholder group. She identifies as a clinical psychologist in recovery from mental ill health. In October 2017, she set up the online peer support group in2gr8mentalhealth, which provides a space for different mental health professionals with lived experience to come together and share and explore their ‘dual identity’. (more…)

Mental health disclosure amongst clinical psychologists in training: Perfectionism and pragmatism | by Tom Grice

ucjulpo11 April 2018

In research conducted at UCL and published last month in Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 67% of clinical psychology trainees who completed our survey considered themselves to have lived experience of a mental health problem.


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

ucjulpo7 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.