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​​​​Learning disabilities - support in Southwark​

Next week is National Learning Disability Week so NHS Southwark CCG is supporting Mencap to raise awareness and celebrate the superheroes in the families they work with. We also want to let people know about the NHS services available in Southwark.

Mencap is a leading charity which works in partnership with people with a learning disability to support people to live life as they choose. They will be holding events throughout the week - if you’d like to find out more about Mencap and how to get involved in their activities go to their website

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability affects the way a person understands information and how they communicate. Around 1.5m people in the UK have one. This means they can have difficulty: understanding new or complex information; learning new skills or coping independently. It is thought that up to 350,000 people have severe learning disabilities. This figure is increasing.

A learning disability can be mild, moderate or severe. Some people with a mild learning disability can talk easily and look after themselves, but take a bit longer than usual to learn new skills. Others may not be able to communicate at all and have more than one disability. A learning disability is not the same as a learning difficulty or mental illness. Some children with learning disabilities grow up to be quite independent, while others need help with everyday tasks, such as washing or getting dressed, for their whole lives. It depends on their abilities. For more information on learning disabilities go to

NHS services available in Southwark

If you have a learning disability, or care for someone who does, your GP will be able to assess your health needs and also advise you on the services available to you in Southwark. There is also a Southwark Community Learning Disability Health Team which provides support to Southwark people who are over 18 years old and have a learning disability and their carers. The team is made up of nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and audiologists.

Members of the team visit people who have learning disabilities at home, college, a day centre or wherever they feel comfortable. They talk to people and find out what they need, the types of services they offer are:
  • Advice to keep healthy
  • Help to see a GP and other health services
  • Help with hearing problems and communication
  • Help to live as independently as possible
  • Help with eating and drinking problems
  • Help to sit and lie down comfortably

If you have a learning disability, or care for someone with a learning disability, talk to your GP who can suggest services which are right for you. If you are a carer you can also contact Southwark Carers who can provide a carers assessment, advice and support. Call 020 7708 4497 or go to their website  ​​​