In November 1946 Judy Fryd wrote a letter to Nursery World magazine highlighting how poorly her daughter Felicity, who had a learning disability, had been treated by her local school.
This kick started the movement that became Mencap, with the letter acting as a call to arms for parents in a similar situation.
Since then Mencap has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their families. This has included influencing change in legislation, and our network has grown to include more than 400 partners, supporting thousands of people across the UK.
Mencap is now established as the leading UK charity for people with a learning disability
We want to celebrate everything that has been achieved since the start of the Mencap movement, and highlight how, for the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK today and the children of tomorrow, there is still a lot to fight for.
#ThanksJudy: Tell us your stories
We're celebrating our birthday by saying "Thanks Judy!" for 70 years of change for people with a learning disability.
We want you to celebrate with us too - so please share your stories with us and let us know what difference Mencap has made to you and why you'd like to thank Judy.
When sharing on social media, don't forget to use the hashtag: #ThanksJudySee all tweets on Twitter
Key moments from the last 70 years
- 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.
- 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
- The Mencap Trust Company was set up in 1976 to provide a discretionary trust service for families
- In 1985, Mencap's services for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities were founded. These were among the first in the UK
- 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 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
See our full timeline on the Mencap history page.
Mencap works to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their families.
Hear from some of the people we support and what they have to say about Mencap on our 70th birthday!
To get you in the party spirit, we have created a party hat for you to wear online.
Sign up to our Twibbon and update your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures and get ready to party!Sign up now
Want a party hat you can actually wear?
Download our birthday party hat, then print and cut it out (black and white is ok, but colour would be best!).
We want to see you and the people you support celebrating 70 years of change for learning disability, so take some photos wearing the party hat and share them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Let us know why you're celebrating and tell us: who is in the photo, what difference Mencap has made to them and why they would like to thank Judy.Download the party hat
Parents of children with a learning disability have highlighted how valuable emotional support from other parents is to them. So, 70 years since the Mencap movement began, we're launching FamilyHub, a new online community.
In a survey of over 1000 parents of children with a learning disability, we found that other parents of children with a learning disability are the group that parents wanted to speak to and have found most useful for emotional support when their child was born.
The survey also found:
- 28% of parents said that they sought out other parents of children with a learning disability when their child was born for emotional support, second only to family and friends.
- 40% of parents said other parents of children with a learning disability were the most useful for emotional support when their child was born.
Of the parents who received no emotional support when their child was born, 27% said other parents were the group they thought would have been most helpful in providing emotional support.
To mark our 70th birthday, Mencap is launching a brand new online community to offer vital peer-to-peer support for parents, family members and carers of people with a learning disability.
Results from our survey
As part of our 70th birthday, we want to show how attitudes towards learning disability have changed, so we surveyed 1,000 parents of children with a learning disability.
Overall, 43% of parents believed attitudes towards people with a learning disability have improved, however 70% of parents said that they have felt unwelcome when out in public with their child.
Despite the improvements, it's clear that bad experiences are having long term effects - with parents that we spoke to saying that they have missed their best friend's wedding, had their child told he needed to stay in the garden away from other children, and others saying that public "are afraid of what they don't understand".
The image opposite shows some of the key statistics from the survey, and you can also find out more by clicking the button below.Read more
We asked people to share their stories about learning disability and Mencap for our 70th birthday.
We think our 70th birthday is a pretty big deal!
If you agree, why not give us a donation as a gift?
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