For Scotland’s Disabled Children Liaison Project and Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland (LTCAS):
Confirming the findings of other research, this study shows that
many children and young people who are disabled and/or live with
long term conditions experience significant levels of social
exclusion. Many reported having few friends and needing more
support to access leisure opportunities.
• Just under a third of respondents had never or seldom spent
time with friends in the past week.
• A quarter had never or seldom had fun with their friends.
“I would like help to socialise in clubs after school but there is
not the support to enable me to do this”
“No one ever wants to go out with me.”
“I need an adult with me as I need support. Not always good to go
with a parent - can be embarrassing but I don’t know how to get to
the places. I would get lost or hurt.”
“Being a wheelchair user makes things difficult. Lots of things
cannot be spontaneous, lots of plans and forward thinking has to
“[I would like to] have friends and go out at night [but I] don’t have
Disabled children and young people have a right to ‘special care
and support… so that they can live full and independent lives’
(UNCRC Article 23) as well as a right to participate in recreational
activities (UNCRC Article 31).
Key message – There is a need to develop a range of supports to
enable children and young people develop and maintain
friendships with peers, disabled and non-disabled, and enjoy more
leisure opportunities. This could include befriending, buddy
schemes and capacity building in mainstream social clubs and
Perhaps the clearest message to come out of the study is that
disabled children and young people and those with long term
conditions want access to the same opportunities and experiences
as their peers, with appropriate support provided as required.
That message, and the other findings of this research, have been
fed into the Scottish Government’s National Review of Services to
Disabled Children. The research will also help to inform LTCAS’
work to influence services supporting people living with long term
conditions, including implementation of the Healthcare Quality
Strategy for NHS Scotland.
It is hoped that public, voluntary and independent organisations
working with children and young people throughout Scotland will
act on the findings of this report.