Keys to Citizenship

Keys to Citizenship by Dr Simon Duffy is a guide to getting good support for people with learning disabilities. It was originally published in 2003.

Graphic representing the Seven Keys to Citizenship

The keys were adopted by many working alongside people with learning disabilities. In 2014 Dr Duffy alongside Wendy Perez, Cornwall People First, Gary Kent from NewKey and Sam Sly from Enough is Enough Time4Change came together as a project group to refresh and refocus the concept as Keys - Citizenship for All.

There are seven keys

  1. Purpose – having goals, hopes and dreams and a structure for life and a plan to achieve this. Having our own direction.
  2. Freedom – control and the ability to speak up and be heard and to be legally visible in society. Taking charge of our own life.
  3. Money – to have money for what people need and control over how that money is spent; especially if it is money to help you get a life. Having enough to live a good life.
  4. Home – a place that belongs to a person, where they have control over everything that happens there. A place that can be the base for a person’s life. 
  5. Help – good quality help that enhances their gifts, talents and skills and ensures their social standing, freedoms, rights and responsibilities in society. 
  6. Life – that people play an active part in their community including contribution through their love, gifts and talents. Getting stuck in and making a difference. Learning from others and them learning from us. 
  7. Love - that people’s rights to a range of loving relationships and with it the responsibilities for others are upheld. Also that the differences in society are revered and respected. Friendship, love and family.
Citizenship and the acceptance it brings is the key to truly belonging, being valued and getting the good things in life. So with this belief it seems nonsensical not to be shaping services around the keys to helping people with learning disabilities achieve full citizenship.


The seven keys are the ‘givens’ people with disabilities need to gain true citizenship. The keys can help organisations both serving and representing people with learning disabilities check that they are making a difference and improving people’s lives. 

Citizenship is something that those people in society with status, power and control may not think too deeply about and take for granted. For people in society with disabilities citizenship is something that can seem out of reach and unachievable and often just does not happen. 

Citizenship is about how we can all be equal yet different. We should all be equal as citizens and equal members of our community. As citizens we should be welcomed into the community for who we are; with all our gifts and differences. Citizenship is how we reconcile equality and difference through community.

We should be able to live our own life, our own way, but as part of a community. Citizenship is important because it means being treated with respect and dignity. Citizenship means being part of everyday life – not being stuck in a box. Not only can people with learning disabilities be full citizens – they can be the very best citizens there are.

Contact details and availability 

If you have ideas, would like to discuss this further, have questions or would like to become involved in this exciting project please contact:

Sam Sly, Project manager, Seven Keys to Citizenship


Tel. 07900 424144 

Current use

If you want to discuss how keys are currently used to check services please contact:

Kate at Cornwall People First Quality Checking service


Tel. 07866467567

Anna at Bournemouth People First


Tel. 01202 303765

Seven Keys users say...

"... an excellent analysis ..."
"... an great audit tool ..."

Bournemouth Residential Homes

"... another way of reassuring ourselves that people ... can talk to someone"
Bournemouth Borough Council

"It is an effective way to quality assure services and highlight improvements in services that enable people to lead fuller, safer lives and be more active citizens."
Bournemouth Joint Helath and Social Care Self-Assessment

"... helping to ensure vulnerable residents are safe, happy and well cared for."
Bournemouth Daily Echo

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