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Why is mixing important?

People with learning disabilities remain one of the most socially segregated groups in our society.


There have been efforts to change attitudes around learning disability but there has been little shift in social behaviour. 

WAVE’s experience, backed up by our research*, is that fear and prejudices are only overcome when people with and without learning disabilities spend quality time together. The more we engage in mixed-abilities socialising the easier it gets, the better we feel about doing it and the more others are encouraged to join in.

88% of adults do not often mix socially with anyone with different abilities.

WAVE is the first time in a social environment that I have met people with additional needs. I don’t have any relatives with a disability

I didn’t really have anything against people with learning disabilities, I just didn’t make any effort to engage with them

If I didn’t come to WAVE it would be a lot harder to meet people. I have friends that struggle to meet people and find it hard to fit in

I felt like disability was something to be ashamed of

You’re not in touch that much in your daily life (with people of different abilities) and so it’s the not knowing that makes you insecure – you don’t quite know what to expect

I was too nervous of getting things wrong – I needed someone or something to challenge me

For those not used to mixing there is often a fear – of making yourself vulnerable, of not knowing what to say or do.

Our research

In 2019 we researched attitudes towards people with and without learning disabilities mixing, and the potential for community change.


We found that only 12% of people often mix socially with anyone with different abilities. Yet 81% are open to the idea.

*WAVE research conducted in 2019. Full details on the ‘Generating Change through Mixed Abilities Communities’ report available on request.

The more time you spend with people who have a different way of being the more accustomed you become

I found the more I came to WAVE the more confident I became – it takes time

There’s something about everyone doing the same thing together – it has an incredible community feel about it

WAVE is a model for society Everyone should interact, and not dwell on differences. WAVE welcomes people in and people feel useful.

Our stories


Jess and Abe

Performing with Abe gives me confidence. Sometimes I get a bit nervous but when I have Abe beside me, I know everything’s going to be OK


Ben and Michael

I'm really grateful to have met Michael through WAVE Cafe. His infectious smile and enthusiasm really rubs off on everyone at WAVE and always helps put us all in a good mood

Hannah and Krystyna

WAVE is an incredible opportunity for people with and without learning disabilities to mix. It is amazing to learn from each other and to encourage one another


Being in WAVE Club makes me feel connected to different people. I feel free to speak up and express my disability

Liz and Caroline

Challenge has become an absolute lifeline to me; I genuinely don't know how I would cope without it

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-25 at


Through WAVE I have had the pleasure of getting to know the most non-judgmental, loving and open minded group of people

Hear Jess and Abe's experiences of WAVE.


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