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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Disabled facing increasing loneliness and isolation

This news post is about 9 years old

​Research shows welfare cuts are making it harder for disabled people to socialise

Disabled people are becoming increasingly isolated from society – with welfare cuts making it more difficult to socialise and maintain friendships.

Research by disability charity Sense found that 23% of disabled people feel lonely most days, rising to 38% for young disabled people.

And almost one in four disabled adults said changes to welfare benefits have made their social lives more isolated.

Some 29% reported only being able to meet up with friends once a month or less, while 6% said they had no friends at all.

More than four in 10 disabled people said that being able to live more independently would allow them to see their friends more often.

And 22% said an improvement in accessible public transport would make it easier to leave the home and socialise with friends.

The Office of Disability Issues in England estimates there are 11.6 million disabled people in the UK. 5.7 million are working age adults, 5.1 million are over state pension age and 0.8 million are children.

People with disabilities are deeply worried about the lack of opportunities

The Scottish Household Survey 2010 found that 22% of men and 26% of women over 16 years old had a long-standing illness, health problem or disability.

Sense deputy chief executive Richard Kramer said: “Friendships are among the most valuable relationships we have and are important for people’s health and wellbeing.

“While there has been extensive analysis around loneliness and older people as their circle of friends reduce over time, our work shows that many disabled people have very few opportunities to make friends in the first place.

“People with disabilities are deeply worried about the lack of opportunities and the barriers to friendship -whether it’s communication issues, a lack of transport or social groups to join.

“So far, there has been little analysis of the subject of friendship, particularly for young people and adults with disabilities.

“We want to start a national debate looking at the obstacles and what can be done to overcome them.

“Disabled people need to be visible, be allowed to play a full part in society and be given the same opportunities to make friends as everyone else.”

Sense commissioned Opinium Research to carry out a survey of 1,004 disabled UK adults aged 18 and over from 30 December to 7 January 2015.