Media volunteers are very important to Mencap's work as we want to ensure people with a learning disability A learning disability is to do with the way someone's brain works. It makes it harder for someone to learn, understand or do things. feel empowered to speak up about issues they are passionate about.
Journalists regularly contact us looking for compelling case studies or experiences from people with a learning disability, a family member or a carer. Real life stories in the media help to bring an issue to life. They give the audience insights into the lives of people with a learning disability, increasing public understanding.
Lots of the media volunteers we work with tell us how rewarding it can be, as speaking to the media lets people with a learning disability share their views and experiences and build their confidence.
What is 'the media'?
The media is how people across the country find out the news. Journalists will find out information about current events and issues and then report on this either on TV, radio, on the internet or in newspapers and magazines. In our work with the media, we always want to ensure people with a learning disability have the opportunity to share their story, and that’s why we’re looking for more media volunteers.
Why become a media volunteer?
Media volunteers are extremely important to Mencap's work. Journalists from a variety of media contact the PR Team on a daily basis, and are frequently looking to interview An interview is a meeting where you talk to someone or a group of people about something. When you have an interview for a job, you have to answer questions and say why you would be good at the job. The person who gives the best answers is offered the job. people with particular experiences of learning disability. Being able to include a 'human interest' element can make or break a story in the media.
Media volunteers can be interviewed anonymously, as we take confidentiality very seriously. We would never share your details without your permission. And if you are happy to be contacted or agree to an interview, we will support you before and during the event.
We often get asked for stories about subjects like early years, education Education is when you learn things. When you fill in a form to get a job, education means you write where you went to school, college or university. , employment Employment means having a job. , benefits, health, and relationships Relationships are about the people in your life. You might have different types of relationships like friendships, family relationships, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. . Basically, anything and everything that we might experience in everyday life.
Current media opportunities
If you are happy to talk about your personal experiences with any of the topics below, please fill out the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and a short paragraph outlining you experiences and we will contact you shortly.
We would like hear from you if you have a health story, for example:
- Have you recently been to hospital?
- What is your experience of visiting your GP surgery?
- Do you think your learning disability affected the experience of you or someone you know?
We would like hear from you if:
- you’re currently working and doing your dream job or a job that’s just slightly different to the norm
- you're looking for work but keep coming up against barriers such as negative employer attitudes, confusing application forms or difficult interviewing processes.
We would also like hear from you if you’re an employer who has seen the benefits of employing people with a learning disability.
Welfare and benefits
We would like hear from you if:
- you have a view or been affected by assessments for benefits such as Personal Independence Payment Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the name of a benefit that some people with a disability or health condition get. The money is to pay for extra help you might need to look after yourself and to get around. Some people who used to get Disability Living Allowance Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is the name of a benefit that some people with a disability get. The money is to pay for extra help you might need to look after yourself and to get around. Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by a benefit called Personal Independence Independence means doing things on your own. Making your own choices. Payment (PIP). (DLA) now get PIP instead. (PIP) or Employment and Support Allowance Employment and Support Allowance is sometimes called ESA. It is a benefit for people who find it harder to get a job because of a disability or a long term health condition. (ESA)
- you have been financially affected by the assessments and the changes to benefits have had an impact on your day to day life. What changes and sacrifices have you made?
- you’re caring for an adult with a learning disability - what impact has going though benefit assessments or appeals had on them? Are they happy for you to share their experiences with a journalist?
If you're a young person with a learning disability, and are about to or have recently left education, we would like hear from you. What are your hopes or fears for the future?
Friendships and relationships
We would like hear from you if:
- you are comfortable telling us about your relationships. Has having a learning disability affected the way you make friends or socialise?
- you feel worried about going out in public
- you are part of an amazing club that helps you be part of your community A community is the people and places in an area. .
Share your story
Don't see an opportunity for you but have a story to tell? We'd still like to hear from you - please fill out the form below or email us at email@example.com and we'll get back to you shortly.
We’re really grateful to anyone who gets in touch and shares their story, and we’ll try our best to reply to each and every email within a couple of days.
Meet other media volunteers
Tessa Bolt, a Northumberland woman with Down Syndrome Down syndrome, also known as Down's syndrome, is a type of disability. People with Down syndrome may find it hard to learn new things and may need support. They may have more problems with their health too. , has spoken about supported housing. She appeared before a government committee and hopes to encourage other disabled people to speak about causes they are passionate about.
"Supported housing is something that I am really passionate about and I am really happy that the committee will get to hear about it from someone who has a learning disability and uses supported housing." - Tessa Bolt
"I like speaking to the media because I can get my point of view across and speak up for people with a learning disability. Like talking about employment and the barriers that people with a learning disability face when looking for a job.
I did some media work around voting in elections as well. That was important because people with a learning disability need to have their voice heard and to help them understand what the election An election is when people choose who should be in charge of something. This could be in charge of a group, an area, or the country. People choose by voting. The person with the most votes wins. is all about.
It has helped my confidence as well. The support I get from the media team lets me feel comfortable about how to say what I want to say."