Over 80% of young people with a learning disability would like to go to more clubs and gigs; citing music as having a huge impact on their lives.

Mencap has announced a drive for people to volunteer for its Sidekicks scheme, which helps people with a learning disability get out to clubs, gigs and music festivals.

Mencap has today launched a drive for volunteers to join their Sidekicks scheme, in light of damning research which shows that young people with a learning disability (aged 18-35) are finding it increasingly difficult to go to gigs and clubs, with 1 in 4 reporting being bullied by members of the public and 1 in 3 afraid of staff at venues.

The research comes as clubs and music venues across the countries are flooded with festive revellers, however young people with a learning disability often feel unable to join in:

  • 55.6% said they would be more likely to go on nights out if staff understood more about learning disability
  • 1 in 4 have been bullied by members of the public at clubs or concerts
  • 1 in 3 have been afraid of staff at music venues.

Almost 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spend less than 1 hour a day outside their homes on a Saturday

Learning disability charity Mencap have today called for the music community to work together to eliminate this problem by remaining vigilant, asking venues to expand their staff training to include Learning Disability Awareness, and announcing a recruitment drive for Mencap’s Sidekick scheme.

Kelsey Ramsey is 24 and has a learning disability, she wants to go to more gigs, clubs and festivals but after a number of negative experiences, and one recently at a major festival, is afraid to do so:

When I was volunteering at a music festival recently a man called me a retard every time he saw me, it really hurt my feelings and made me feel unwelcome. I’ve been called the R word before, and I know that people make comments about me and how I look, it makes it hard to carry on doing the things I love.

Music is one of my favourite things and I love going to gigs, clubs and festivals but it isn’t something I can do a lot. It’s mainly nerves and anxiety. When you have a learning disability people look at you and judge how you act and how you look, so  that can stop me from going out because I worry people are going to make fun of me. It really knocks your self-confidence.”

I’m in my mid-twenties so not going to clubs and concerts means I don’t get to go out as much as I would like. Lots of youth clubs for people with a learning disability cut off at a certain age, so what are you meant to do then?  You are just left sitting at home doing nothing. I want to be able to go out and do the same things as other people my age but most of the time it feels impossible.”

Rossanna Trudgian Head of Campaigns and Activism for Mencap said:

People with a learning disability have a right to a night out like anyone else. But the reality is if you are young and have a learning disability you’re likely to be blocked out of something as universal as music due to fear of staff or public attitudes. What’s worse bullying seems to be one of the reasons people with a learning disability don’t attend gigs or nightclubs and this needs to change.

Music should be open to everyone and I urge music venues and live music fans to work together to tackle this issue head on by staying ever alert for incidents of bullying and ensuring venue staff have had learning disability awareness training.

Signing up to Mencap’s Sidekick scheme is a great way that gig goers can help, by meeting up with people with a learning disability and going with them to gigs and clubs; allowing people to get out, see their favourite band and feel safe.”

-ENDS-

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk or for out of hours 07770 656 659.

Notes to editors

Research

Mencap researched almost 300 people with a learning disability aged between 18-35 in 2015:

  • The favourite past time of many young people with a learning disability is ‘listening to music’ and they consider it an important activity which has a big effect on them.
    • 72.6% said listening to music was their favourite thing to do in their spare time.
    • 64.4% listen to music every day.
    • 81.9% said music is very important to them and has a big effect on their lives.
  • Young people with a learning disability want to go to more music concerts/nightclubs than they currently do.
    • 81.9% said they want to go to more music concerts.
  • 73.7% of young people with a learning disability have been to a music concert or nightclub before.
  • When you have been to a club or a music concert have you ever:

Never      

Sometimes  

Often      

Total Responses

Been afraid of staff at venues

135 (70.3%)

49 (25.5%)

8 (4.2%)

192

Been worried about asking staff for help

104 (54.7%)

62 (32.6%)

24 (12.6%)

190

Been told you can't enter because of your learning disability

167 (87.4%)

19 (9.9%)

5 (2.6%)

191

Been bullied by members of the public

133 (70.7%)

41 (21.8%)

14 (7.4%)

188

  • Young people with a learning disability would be more likely to go to music concerts if venue staff understood more about learning disability.
    • 55.6% said they would be more likely to go if staff understood more about learning disability.
  • Many young people with a learning disability have felt like they have nobody to spend time with

Often      

Some of the time

Hardly ever

Never      

Total Responses

How often do you feel like you don't have anyone to spend time with

67 (23.8%)

119 (42.2%)

41 (14.5%)

55 (19.5%)

282

  • 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spend less than 1 hour outside on a typical Saturday.

Think of what you did last Saturday. On that day, how many hours did you spend outside your home?

Response

Chart

Percentage

Count

Less than 1 hour

30.1%

85

2 - 4 hours

33.7%

95

4 - 6 hours

14.9%

42

6- 8 hours

12.4%

35

More than 8 hours

8.9%

25

 

Total Responses

282

 

Mencap’s Sidekick Scheme

The sidekick programme connects volunteers with people with a learning disability in their area who have similar interests and help them get out to do the things they love, e.g going to a gig, club, cinema, theatre or the gym. The scheme helps to ensure that people with a learning disability are able to live the life they choose and do the things they love.

Find out more about the scheme here: http://bit.ly/28Lh4r0

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.