People with a learning disability need to have their voices heard. At Mencap we make sure all our work is shaped and influenced by people with a learning disability.

We have two inclusion groups, in the south and north of England, and an advisory forum, which reports to our trustees. We listen to and value the contributions our groups make.

If you have a learning disability and would like to get involved in our work, read below to find out more about our work.

About the Mencap Inclusion Groups

The groups discuss a wide variety of topics, including health, relationships and employment.

Different topics are discussed at each meeting, and we sometimes have visitors from outside of Mencap. We aim to give first-hand experience of what people with a learning disability need and want to happen. Our work is made much stronger by listening to the people we support first.

Why does inclusion matter?

Our vision statement makes it clear that we want people with a learning disability to be listened to and included in all aspects of life.  Our campaigning work to make sure this happens is ongoing, so having the voices of people with a learning disability included in everything we do is essential for our work in the years ahead. 

About the Learning Disability Advisory Forum (LDAF)

Decisions made by Mencap’s trustees have a significant impact on the lives of people we support, and how we’re viewed as a charity.

The LDAF is a forum which acts as a supporting voice on the subjects trustees are debating, making sure that the views of people with a learning disability continue to be taken into account.

The group has 10 members from regions across the UK, and meets four times a year. The LDAF gives recommendations to the board, and plays a vital role in the governance and strategy of Mencap.

Meet the groups

The two Inclusion Groups started in 2014 meet often to make sure the views and insights people with a learning disability guide our work at Mencap. The two groups are:

  • Include Me (based in London)
  • Our Voices (based in Rotherham)

Successful campaigns like Hear My Voice show that the personal experiences of people with a learning disability are influencing all aspects of Mencap’s work.  Membership of the two groups is entirely from people with a learning disability and/or autism, with support provided from Mencap staff.

Read our stories

Find out more about our work through the stories of the people we support. 

Read the stories
Meet the members of the Our Voices group

Vicky Barker

Vicky BarkerI’m Vicky and I’m quite new to the inclusion group. I’ve only been to a few meetings but they’ve been great. I have found it interesting to learn about plans for the new Health campaign. In my spare time I like to take photographs, I’m the family photographer! I also enjoy cooking and my favourite thing to make is spaghetti Bolognese.



Abby Fewkes

Abby FewkesMy name is Abby and I work at the Rotherham office as an admin assistant. I’ve worked for Mencap for quite a few years. I’ve been involved with the Our Voices group since it was first set up. I’ve made lots of new friends and my confidence has grown. In my spare time I like to go shopping, walk my dog and go on cruise holidays with my family.



Cecelia Lopez

Cecelia LopezMy name is Cecelia and I live in Rotherham. I’ve been involved with the Our Voices group since the beginning. I also used to do some volunteering at a charity shop but it closed so I’m looking for a new voluntary job. During the week I go to a day service where I get to meet with my friends, chat to people and I like cooking. I really enjoy the inclusion group meetings, especially when we have guests.


Sam Parsons

Sam ParsonsMy name is Sam, I’m 28 and I live in Halifax. I attend the Our Voices Inclusion Group in Rotherham, and also the national group that meets in London. I work part time as an office assistant for Mencap in Rochdale where I produce a monthly newsletter for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Mencap services. I enjoy going to watch the rugby in Halifax, where I volunteer as a score boarder. I also meet my friends twice a week at my local social club, we play bingo and sometimes I win!


Gillian Radford

Gillian RadfordI’m Gillian and I’m from Rotherham. I’ve been a member of the Our Voices group for two years. It’s brilliant and gives me the chance to share my ideas with a range of people who come to talk to us about things that will make life better for people with a learning disability. I also volunteer at the British Heart Foundation. In my spare time I like watching Coronation Street and I’m a dab hand at playing games on my tablet!


Paul Savage

Paul SavageI’m Paul, I live in Sheffield and I’ve been an Inclusion Group member for the last 2 years, but I’ve been involved with Mencap for a lot longer. The Our Voices group gives me the chance to have my say about issues that are important to people with a learning disability, and I get to help shape some of the things that Mencap does. I’m really in to watching soap operas on TV and would like to see lots more people with disabilities on the TV and in the media.


Paul Scott

Paul ScottI’m Paul, I’m 35 and I live in Sheffield. I’m quite new to the Our Voices group but am really getting a lot out of the meetings and have made some new friends. Because I’m a member of the Inclusion Group I’ve just been involved with an interview panel to recruit some new members of staff for Mencap. I go to several social clubs and like spending time with my family, especially when my mum and nan make me a nice Sunday lunch! I’m a football fan and support Manchester United and England.

Meet the members of the Include Me group

Angela Buggy

AngelaI’m 60 and live in Wimbledon. I joined the group because it is a great opportunity. I like to know about Mencap’s campaigns so I can tell people about them, and I wanted to meet new people. I was asked to go to a tea party at Buckingham Palace and met the Queen and Prince Phillip. I’m also part of the London social group and we plan social activities every month. I like cooking at home and helping the little children at a nursery.

Amy Clarke

AmyI’m 46 and live in North London and I’ve worked for Mencap for nearly 21 years. I joined the group because I wanted to try something different and meet different people. It’s been a privilege and has given me more confidence. I have also been part of a safe surfing web project for people with a learning disability in Poland, Spain and Italy as part of Inclusion Europe. I like the theatre and cinema and I have lots of followers on Twitter (I've even had replies from Bonnie Langford!)

Bernie Conway

BernieI’m 48 and live in London and I work in Mencap people team. I joined the group because I’m really keen on involving people with a learning disability and I like meeting people from different parts of Mencap. I like it when we went out in the park and interviewed the public on what they think about learning disabilities. I’m part of a Wednesday running group at Mencap and we’re doing the 5km Pall Mall run. I like to go out and spend time with my family and friends.

Shelly Harris

ShelleyI’m 36 and live in Leighton Buzzard. I’ve worked at Mencap as an assistant trainer for 15 years and an office assistant for 3 years. I joined the group because I wanted to gain some confidence, and now I can do things like going on the train. I’m also co-chair of the learning disability partnership board in Bedfordshire. I like cooking, swimming and going out for meals.

Ciara Lawrence

CiaraI’m 37, live in Surrey, and I’ve worked for Mencap for 16 years in the Campaigns team. I joined the group because I wanted to see Mencap be really honest and say we need to be better at including people. I’m really proud of how we helped the BBC think about how they portray a person with a learning disability. I’m also a trustee of charity and a theatre group. I love going to West End musicals and spending time with my family.  

Jack Welch

I'm 24 years old and I live in Weymouth, Dorset. As well as being part of the Include Me group, I am a very active in a number of other organisations such as Ambitious About Autism, the National Children's Bureau and NHS England where I am an advisor for their Learning Disability and/or Autism Engagement Team. In my spare time I love reading, blogging and visiting new places at home and abroad. 

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