A new social enterprise has been launched at the House of Lords to publish a series of picture books that help people with learning and communication difficulties tackle challenging and emotional events. Three new books have been published to mark the launch.

The new enterprise, called Beyond Words, is a spin-out company from St George’s, University of London. It will continue the production of the well-established Books Beyond Words series, which uses pictures instead of words to communicate with adults and adolescents who cannot read, or have difficulty reading or communicating.

The books aim to help readers cope with emotions, life challenges and events such as love, relationships, abuse, health, death and crime.

Each book tells stories in pictures – including mime and body language – to communicate simple, explicit messages that help readers explore and understand their own experiences. They are developed in consultation with people with learning disabilities, professional consultants, artists and advisors to ensure their quality and relevance.

The latest three additions to the series – Sonia’s Feeling Sad; Ron’s Feeling Blue; and Loving Each Other Safely – tackle the emotions of sadness and love.

The books are the brainchild of Baroness Hollins, who is professor of the psychiatry of learning disability at St George’s, University of London and has been working with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems for 30 years.

Professor Hollins said: “These books actively address the problems of understanding that people with learning and communication difficulties experience. People with learning disabilities have found the books of great benefit in a variety of circumstances, from giving evidence at the criminal court to enabling them to give informed consent.”

Many of the 35 books have been jointly published by St George’s, University of London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Producing the books as a social enterprise will enable all profits from the books to be invested back into Beyond Words. Future plans to develop further useful sources and services for people with learning and communication difficulties, their family carers, support workers and other professionals.

Mencap, an organisation dedicated to supporting people with learning disabilities and their families and carers, said of the books in a review: “The Books Beyond Words series works because people with a learning disability and professionals work together as equals in producing them. The series has established the highest reputation for tackling complex and difficult issues, clearly, compassionately and with considerable skill.”