One in four people admit they have avoided conversations with disabled people, according to research.
The survey by national disability charity, Sense, found that 52 per cent believed they had lots in common with disabled people, however ‘fear of causing offence’, ‘feeling uncomfortable’ and ‘not knowing what to talk about’ were the most commonly cited reasons for avoiding interactions.
According to The Independent, the research was conducted as part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness and highlighted the shockingly high levels of loneliness among disabled people. More than half said they felt lonely and just under a quarter said they experienced loneliness on a typical day, according to Sense.
The survey also revealed that those under the age of 24 were twice as likely to have avoided conversations with disabled people, including people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who is co-chairing the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, told The Independent: “Many of the barriers to building social connections for disabled people are practical ones, such as the need for accessible transport and buildings, financial support and appropriate social care, but public attitudes also play a part in the risk of loneliness for people with disability.”
Richard Kramer, deputy CEO of Sense, added: “Loneliness is disproportionally high amongst disabled people, many of whom say they feel lonely every single day. We all have things in common; however outdated attitudes towards disability are still preventing people from striking up conversations and finding shared interests that are often the key to friendship.
“Better understanding of disability and a shift in societal awareness are a key step in allowing disabled people to play a full part in society with the same opportunities to make connections as everybody else.”