Here I Am is different to anything that Mencap has ever done before. For too long people with a learning disability have been viewed as objects of pity, or worse – with outright hostility. We want Here I Am to change that, and get the public to think differently about learning disability.
When we talk to people with a learning disability and their families across England, Wales and Northern Ireland they tell us that the publics attitudes are incredibly important to them and can affect every part of their lives. Yet we know that so many people don’t understand what a learning disability is; and this can lead to people with a learning disability and their families feeling isolated.
Mencap recently conducted some in depth research to better understand the publics attitudes to people with a learning disability. When the results of the research came back I was pleased to see that the majority of the public support people with a learning disability; but I was not surprised to see that there is a huge amount of confusion around what a learning disability is.
There was also a small (but very important) minority of people who have clearly held onto some very negative and worrying attitudes around learning disability - this is discrimination towards people with a learning disability, and it has no place in 2016.
It has never been more important for us to work to change these views; and to make sure that people with a learning disability are in charge of that change- and that is what Here I Am will aim to do.
People with a learning disability are the best champions for themselves, and it is their voice that will drive the change we want to see. People don’t often understand learning disability until they have contact with it, either meeting someone or seeing it in the media- but that contact sometimes never happens, and people with a learning disability stay invisible. Here I Am wants to change that, we want to make it impossible for the public to ignore people with a learning disability.
Here I Am will see people with a learning disability everywhere; on billboards, TV, cinema screens. We’ll work to unlock public platforms that have not been open to people with a learning disability before - allowing their voice to be heard in new ways; reaching more people than ever to help break down the lack of understanding that surrounds learning disability.
Learning disability has been invisible for too long, but now it’s time to see it.
Got questions about learning disability? Who better to ask than someone who has a learning disability!
We got Aeren to answer some questions. Take a look at the chat to hear her thoughts and experience of having a learning disability...