Policy rhetoric over recent decades has promoted social inclusion of the more vulnerable sectors of society, such as people with learning difficulties. This study aimed to describe the experiences of adults with learning difficulties in north-east England and their family and to appraise their care. Thirty-five people with a learning difficulty and/or a family member were interviewed. A model of social coherence was developed that moves beyond the self-limiting debates about social inclusion and exclusion. It is underpinned by a sense of location for the person with a disability in relation to services and carers, family and community, dependency and risk, temporality and space, events, control and society. Key recommendations are for services to know the individual and his/her family; to be responsive to individual needs; to enhance the capacity of families and communities to support people with difficulty in learning; and to help these people to feel more valued.