Ethnicity and Equality

In 2009 we were granted funding by the Department of Health to explore how services can engage with people with learning disabilities from Black and Minority Ethnic communities (BME) in a more culturally  sensitive and accessible way.

Evidence shows an increasing number of children and young people from black and minority ethnic communities being identified as having special educational needs and more profound disabilities.

There is also a higher proportion of children diagnosed with learning disabilities from the south Asian population. Yet despite this, these groups tend to be under represented in accessing services.

People with learning disabilities and their families from BME communities still experience double disadvantage and discrimination. Previous efforts to improve engagement have not had sufficient impact.  It is vital for local community groups and organisations to identify and reach out to marginalised families.

We have seen how small, locally developed programmes have much more impact for these groups than statutory services can as they cater to meet the needs of these groups. Therefore we developed a project ‘Reaching Out To Families’ aiming to ‘walk’ with and develop capacity in third sector groups and health/social care through action learning to redress the barriers to people from BME communities who have learning disabilities from accessing services.

We aimed to:

  • develop good practice
  • improve ‘reach’
  • influence policy and practice.

The action learning approach supported participants to work together to solve real work based problems. Each action learning set met regularly to resolve issues and address the needs of the BME communities in their region. Participants were encouraged to work in teams to develop demonstration projects with hands on support from FPLD.

As a result of the project we have developed several resources aimed at practitioners, local authorities and people with learning disabilities from BME communities and their families to disseminate learning. 


For government, commissioners, local authorities and practitioners

Our report ‘Reaching Out to Families',  explains the work undertaken in more detail as well as outlining the main conclusions and outcomes of the project. There is also an accessible summary in this report for people with learning disabilities and their families.

Read the report

For practitioners

Reaching Out - Culturally Competent Practice helps explain how you can make changes in your organization to make sure you are being culturally inclusive.

Read the good practice guidance

For practitioners, people with learning disabilities and families

Reaching Out - Culturally Competent Planning is a guide with downloadable templates on developing cultural sensitive planning in person centred/support planning etc.

Read the planning guidance