It all began in 1946...
- In 1946 Judy Fryd, a mother of a child with a learning disability, formed 'The National Association of Parents of Backward Children' - which later became Mencap.
- She wrote to 'Nursery World' magazine inviting other parents to contact her. Many wrote back to Judy expressing their anger and sorrow at the lack of services for their children.
- In 1955 the association changed its name to 'The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children' and opened its first project, the Orchard Dene short-stay residential home.
- In 1958, the National Society launched a ground-breaking project called the Brooklands Experiment. This compared the progress of children with a learning disability who lived in hospital with a group of children who were moved to a small family environment and cared for using educational activities modelled on those in 'ordinary' nurseries. After two years, the children in the home-like environment showed marked improvements in social, emotional and verbal skills. The success of the experiment was published around the world.
The life of Judy Fryd
In 1946 Judy Fryd, a mother of a child with a learning disability, wrote a letter to Nursery World to highlight the unfairness of her daughter being sent away from a mainstream school.
Little did she know she would start a movement.
This is her story.
1960s and 1970s
- In 1963 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother opened the National Society's new hostel and training workshop in Slough, Buckinghamshire - the first training centre of its kind for adults with a learning disability.
- In 1966 Mencap started the Gateway clubs, offering sports and leisure opportunities for people with a learning disability.
- In 1969, the society shortened its name to 'Mencap'.
- In 1975 Mencap's Pathway employment service began.
- The Mencap Trust Company was set up in 1976 to provide a discretionary trust service for families.
- Mencap's influence and campaigning work saw people with a learning disability included in the Further and Higher Education Act.
- Mencap set up the first homes and community-based accommodation for people with a learning disability in the UK.
- In 1985, Mencap's services for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities were founded. These were among the first in the UK.
- A new national survey of disabled people included people with a learning disability.
- In 1986, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother became the patron of Mencap.
- People with a learning disability were elected as Mencap national assembly members and became fully involved in decisions about how Mencap is run.
- In 1995 the Disability Discrimination Act was passed. It aimed to end the discrimination faced by many disabled people and to guarantee their civil rights.
- In 1998 Golden Lane Housing was established.
- In 2001 the government published ‘Valuing People' white paper.
- In 2004 the Countess of Wessex became Mencap's patron.
- In 2004 Mencap launched its new five-year corporate strategy called ‘Equal chances', which focused on securing equal chances in life for all people with a learning disability.
- In 2005 the government published a report, ‘Improving the life chances of disabled people', and set out plans to improve the quality of life of disabled people by 2025.
- In 2006 Mencap celebrated 60 years as the leading UK charity for people with a learning disability.
- In 2008 Mencap rebranded as part of the plans to make Mencap a more modern and dynamic organisation. This included the launch of new font, FSme, developed with people with a learning disability.
- In 2009 The Department of Health published ‘Valuing People Now', a three-year plan for learning disability services in England.
- In the same year, the UK finally ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It reaffirmed that disabled people have the same human rights as non-disabled people.
- 2009 ended on a high, when the International Paralympic Committee voted to re-include athletes with a learning disability in the Paralympic Games.