Purpose: People with mild intellectual disabilities (MID) generally live independently among the wider community. This can result in social exclusion and feelings of loneliness. Therefore, social work organizations aim to socially include people with MID through organizing activities in neighbourhoods that should lead to enlarged networks and increased societal participation. The “Communal Table” is such a, group-orientated, intervention that organizes monthly dinners in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Because little is known about the effective- ness of interventions aiming to bring about social inclusion for people with MID we explored which types of participants were reached and whether and how the intervention brought about the intended outcomes.
Methods: We performed a theory-based evaluation, using participatory observations and qualitative interviews (n = 19). The Communal Table attracted a diverse and loyal group of participants.
Results: We distinguished four types of participants—lonely participants, activist participants, satisfied participants and calculating participants—whose pre-existing networks played a significant role in their individual needs for support and the outcomes of the intervention. Outcomes reported included experiences of conviviality and warmth, temporary relief of underlying problems and an overall positive opinion about the intervention, but network enlargement or increased societal participation were not reported.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that social network interventions for people with MID should be tailored to participants’ pre-existing networks and related individual needs to be successful.