• Initial results from the first survey (2000+) on public attitudes for over 30 years, shows lack of understanding around learning disability and still concern over contact
  • Mencap launch ‘Here I Am’ campaign to change way society views learning disability.
  • New video featuring a DJ with Down’s syndrome remixing a quote from leading academic in 1968 saying there’s no guilt putting Down’s syndrome children away and web tool allowing public to ask taboo questions they’re too afraid to ask about learning disability launched today.

Key results from the Mencap and Ipsos MORI survey of 2002 people, which will be released in full at a later date, are below with further results in the Here I Am campaign report.

Some people will have negative attitudes:

  • 6% of people say they would feel uncomfortable using the same swimming pool as someone with a more severe learning disability.
  • Only 61% of people strongly disagree that people who have a learning disability are a burden on society.
    • However, almost 40% of people were not sure if people with a learning disability were a burden on society or not.

Uncertainty over what people with and learning disability can achieve:

  • However only 68% would feel comfortable with someone with a milder learning disability being one of their representatives on their local council
  • Only 67% agree that people with a mild learning disability can be as good parents as anyone else, despite evidence showing otherwise

In general, the public are supportive:

  • Only 5% of people agree that increased spending on care and support services for people with learning disabilities is a waste of money.
  • 93% of the public agree that people with learning disabilities can be productive members of society.


  • Just 10% of the public say they have seen someone with a learning disability featured in newspapers or magazines in the past six months and only 14% being talked about in TV news reports

The public are confused when it comes to learning disability:

  • 27% of people think that learning disability is a form of mental illness
  • 27% of people think learning disability does not last your whole life.

Existing data, detailed at the end of this release, show how people with a learning disability are one of the most marginalised groups in society, with almost 1 in 3 18-35 year olds spending less than 1 hour a day outside their home. The Ipsos MORI research is the first time in over 30 years we have a grasp of public attitudes to learning disability, further results can be found in Notes to Editors and in the Here I Am PDF Campaign Report.

A video has been made to launch the Here I Am campaign which takes a quote from Atlantic Magazine in 1968, where a leading academic suggests that someone with Down’s Syndrome is not in fact a person, and that there should be no guilt “putting them away” in a sanitarium or even lethal sense.

This quote is then cut up by DJ Casey Rochell, a young man with Down’s Syndrome, who turns these shocking words into something positive and upbeat.

'A Down’s is not person' becomes 'A Down’s is a person'.

The campaign also includes a web tool, Understand Me, allowing the public to ask some of the questions they are too afraid to normally ask people with a learning disability.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said:

For the first time in over 30 years we have a robust picture of how our society views learning disability.  To mark that we are launching Here I Am - our biggest ever public effort to challenge some of those views. Far from being objects of pity and sympathy, Here I Am shows people with a learning disability as they really are; comics, music lovers, actors, swimmers, artists, friends or lovers – whoever they want to be.

Whilst the research shows that on the whole there is support from the public for people with a learning disability, this is being dragged back by widespread confusion about what it means, a real nervousness about coming into contact with someone with a learning disability and a small core group who continue to hold profoundly negative attitudes. There’s no reason why in 2016 anyone should say they wouldn’t want to share a swimming pool with someone with a learning disability or wouldn’t sit next to them in a cinema, show or concert.

It can be scary to come into contact with something we don’t understand and easy to ignore. With Here I Am we want to take away that uncertainty and with it the option to ignore, and bring the general public and people with a learning disability together.

Here I Am will give the chance for people with a learning disability to put their own stamp on popular culture, say ‘Here I Am’, and finally be understood as the individuals they are rather than a lazy label.

We want the public and people with a learning disability to come together, and to make a start by visiting our new ‘Understand Me’ web tool where you can ask the questions people have traditionally been too afraid to ask around learning disability.

Casey Rochell, otherwise known as DJ Dude, who has a learning disability and stars in Mencap’s Here I Am video, said:

I have Down’s syndrome, and autism. But those are not the most important things about me - the most important things are music, fashion and being a DJ. I DJ my own set every Sunday night at my local pub. I think it’s fabulous when people get up and dance. DJ’ing makes me happy and excited.

I was really excited when I was asked to star in the Here I Am film. I think people are going to love it. I hope it makes them think about learning disability in a different way. We are all good at different things. People need to realise that.

The inequalities faced by people with a learning disability:

  • every year 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably in hospitals.1
  • just 6% of people with a learning disability known to social services are in paid employment.2
  • children with special educational needs (SEN) are twice as likely as other children to be bullied regularly.3
  • almost 1 in 3 18-35 year olds with a learning disability spend less than 1 hour a day outside their homes.4
  • 56% of disabled people say that they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition.


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

Ipsos MORI Survey

An online survey was conducted using Ipsos’ online panel (IIS) with a UK sample of 2,002 online panellists aged 16 and over. Ipsos MORI and Mencap worked together to develop the survey questionnaire. Fieldwork took place between 28th April and 10th May 2016. Quotas were set by age and gender within each country, and region within England.

To allow for analysis by country, the number of responses from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were each boosted to 200. The data were weighted to ensure a nationally representative sample of people aged 16 and over in the UK. When interpreting the survey findings, it is important to remember that the results are based on a sample of the population, not the entire population, and are therefore subject to confidence intervals.

After measuring people’s top of mind understanding of LD, the survey provided a definition of LD, for respondents to read before answering the remaining questions.

The survey included two video clips, one showing people with mild forms of learning disabilities and the other showing people with more severe forms of learning disabilities, to help generate a shared understanding among respondents of what mild and severe learning disabilities are.

Learning disability data

[1] Glover, G., & Emerson, E. (2013). Estimating how many deaths of people with learning disabilities in England could be prevented by better medical care. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 18(3), 146–149. http://doi.org/10.1108/TLDR-03-2013-0025

[2] NHS Digital (2015) Community care statistics, social services activity, England - 2014-15. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/adult-social-care-activity-and-finance-report/community-care-statistics-social-services-activity-england-2014-15

[3] IoE London (2014) Research Summary: Are Disabled Children and Young People at Higher Risk of being bullied? Available in PDF online: http://www.closer.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Briefing-4-Disability-and-bullying-June-20141.pdf

[4] Mencap survey of 18-35 year olds with a learning disability 2015 https://www.mencap.org.uk/press-release/learning-disability-week-highlights-isolation-faced-young-people-learning-disability

[5] From a poll of disabled people conducted for scope by COMRes in 2011 http://www.scope.org.uk/About-Us/Media/Press-releases/May-2011/Deteriorating-attitudes-towards-disabled-people  http://www.comresglobal.com/polls/scope-discrimination-survey-3/

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.


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’.