Londoners are the least comfortable people in England, Wales and Scotland when it comes to sharing a restaurant, office, pub or even public transport with someone with a learning disability or autism, a new United Response survey reveals.
Only three quarters (75%) of those living in the capital said they would be happy to share a pub with someone with a learning disability or autism, in contrast to nine in ten people in other areas such as Wales (93%) and the North West (89%).
The new data comes as the disability charity launches its Am I Your Problem? campaign to challenge the indifference, hidden discrimination and sometimes outright hostility faced by people with a learning disability or autism. The charity is calling on the general public to seriously consider how their interaction and behaviour can harm people with learning disabilities or autism, dent their confidence and at worst completely ostracise them from society.
Elsewhere, more than one in ten (13%) Londoners explicitly said they would not be comfortable with their manager hiring someone with a learning disability or autism – more than any other region. One in ten (10%) went as far as saying they strongly disagreed when asked if they would be comfortable.
Meanwhile, barely half (56%) of the 1,000 people surveyed said they would be happy if their child was taught at school by someone with autism or a learning disability. More than two thirds (70%) of people aged 18-24 said they would be comfortable, the firmest agreement of any age group.
Research also exposes subtle differences in attitudes among men and women when they share restaurants, offices, pubs or public transport with those with learning disabilities and autism. Just over three quarters (78%) of men said they would be comfortable with these scenarios compared to an overwhelming majority (90%) of women.
United Response chief executive Tim Cooper said:
“Our ‘Am I Your Problem?’ campaign sets out to show that people with learning disabilities and autism are not the problem in our society.
“The problem lies with the minority who think it is acceptable to commit conscious acts that demean disabled people.
“There is also a wider problem – an underlying ignorance displayed by a number of people who still feel awkward and uncomfortable around people with learning disabilities and autism. Highlighting this lack of understanding is the starting point of promoting a greater understanding and acceptance among the general public to change behaviours and empower people with learning disabilities to be fully included in their community.”