Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

“The social care sector has had to fight every step of the way for parity with the NHS throughout this crisis. We saw life-saving PPE supplies requisitioned by the NHS and support workers unable to access testing. The death rate for people with a learning disability has more than doubled during this period, yet most still cannot access priority testing today.   

“Support workers have been doing extraordinary work in extremely challenging circumstances, risking their lives to support those who need it the most. In some cases, they are the only contact some people have. Beyond well-meaning gestures, such as the care badge, support workers have seen little recognition for their incredible work on the frontline during this crisis.    

“I call on Government to recognise the vital contribution the social care sector has made during the coronavirus crisis with a well-deserved pay rise for support workers, a bold plan for reform and funding for a sustainable future.  We must make sure that we can weather the storm of this ongoing crisis.”

BBC One Panorama’s The Forgotten Frontline aired on Thursday 30 July. Further information here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000lbq0.


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson, please contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).  

About Mencap     

There are approximately 1.5 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.    

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-6pm, 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;    
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • 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.