I’m an apprentice at the campaigning group Disability Rights UK, and recently spent a day with Mencap’s Campaigns team to find out more about how we can raise awareness about learning disability in society - and the employment chances for people who have the condition.
I have a learning disability, but my experience to date is that many people don’t completely understand what a learning disability is – or why I have the difficulties I sometimes do with certain tasks. I find it a bit stressful to keep explaining why.
It was great coming to visit Mencap and my friend Ciara Lawrence (pictured above) and hear about the experiences of other people who also have a learning disability, and to share our feelings with each other.
My way of coping in stressful situations is to listen to music, I also like to do creative things, including draw and doing a bit of writing. I even write and sing my own songs. Being at Mencap for the day I got to hear positive stories about people enjoying their jobs, getting support from their managers and other staff.
Corrin: Learning disability is when you don't understand things, but it doesn't make you stupid.
It’s a nice environment here and the people who work at Mencap are like one big happy family who are there for each other no matter what. One of the things I was most interested to hear was about how every person who is invited for an interview at Mencap is interviewed by a learning disability panel. There are also people with a learning disability either working or volunteering in most teams.
On the day I visited Mencap, me, Ciara and Nikki Kanwar, who is my job coach at Disability Rights UK, created signs to share what learning disability means to us. You can see what we think in the pictures.
At Disability Rights UK I’m involved with research and policy tasks. I help gather information, attend events and also work with the other apprentices we have. Most recently, I helped produce the video for the I Can Make It! campaign, which aims to increase the employment chances of young people with disabilities aged 18-25.
For my day with Mencap, I spent the morning attending a meeting with the Campaigns team to find out more about what Mencap was doing, such as how Mencap challenges negative opinions about people with a learning disability through the media.
Ciara: What does learning disability mean to me? Changing the world's attitudes!
In the afternoon I spoke to a senior manager about her experiences managing people with a learning disability, including how she gave work and personal support to people. I also found out about how Mencap has campaigned to make sure that there are more inclusive employers.
The visit gave me a lot more information about what Mencap does, and it was great to learn about how they share stories on social media too.
Nikki: Learning disability is about a different way of understanding and seeing things from an alternative viewpoint.
My mum always says something that I want to share with other people too – that being smart isn’t about knowing things, it’s about what you can do. I want more people to have a better attitude towards people with a learning disability.