As a Christian disability and community engagement charity, Livability has always believed in the importance of spiritual life. Shaped by a broad and inclusive Christian ethos – we are committed to supporting people holistically – working to provide services and resources that enhance life – physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
In the last few years, there has been growing recognition among secular bodies that spiritual needs are an important part of wellbeing. Spirituality in its broadest sense relates to an individual’s meaning, values, sense of ‘other’, connections and what they are becoming – and these are integral to someone’s health and life purpose. With the passing of The Care Act the sector is seeing a clear encouragement for local authorities to take wellbeing seriously, which includes making provision to meet people’s spiritual needs.
Livability welcomes this acknowledgment of the importance of spiritual life. But it does present a challenge: What does this look like in a plural age? When both staff and those they support come from a whole range of spiritual journeys – some are members of established religions, others have individual practices and beliefs, and still others choose not to explore spiritual life.
Third sector think tank “Lemos&Crane” have been researching this issue over the past few years. They’ve worked a range of faith and non-faith based care providers, including Livability. They have conducted dozens of interviews with service users, staff and family members. The result is a new report: Looking Together: Spiritual beliefs and aspirations of people with learning disabilities.
The report starts by examining why spiritual life is so important, and goes on to explore some of the barriers that people with learning disabilities face as they try to practice their religion or spiritual life. These barriers can include a lack of independence, unwelcoming faith communities, and tensions with staff beliefs.
Lemos&Crane have designed a helpful framework for good practice for spiritual development with people with learning disabilities. It sets out 12 recommendations, from building good working relationships with local faith groups to giving staff a safe place to discuss the challenges that this work raises for them.
Livability is pleased to have been a part of this project. We look forward to what we can learn from this research and exploring how we can apply the important principles to our work.
Read the full report here.