Andrew Power

University of Southampton

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Self-Building Safe Havens in a Post-service Landscape: How adults with learning disabilities are reclaiming the welcoming communities agenda

With the increased commitment towards personalisation in adult social care, allied with more ‘austere’ funding of social services and day centre closures, support is increasingly becoming more ‘place-less’ and woven into everyday spaces within the community. Consequently, support is being re-framed from ‘care’ in formal settings towards an effort at enabling meaningful lives in a post-service landscape nested in local neighbourhoods and ordinary spaces. This paper explores what it means to live in a ‘welcoming community’ within the context of day care centre closures from the perspective of adults with learning disabilities. It draws on empirical data collected from focus groups and photo diaries with adults with learning disabilities on their experiences of negotiating support arrangements. We identify newly crafted practices of ‘self-building’ safe havens in ordinary British spaces, including allotments, marinas and ‘fish and chip shops’, as well as strategies which call upon non-human elements to promote wellbeing. We argue that adults with learning disabilities through these ‘radical’ practices are thus reclaiming the welcoming communities agenda.

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