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

“People with a learning disability and their families must be able to get the support they desperately need to stay safe and well in this ‘new normal’. 

Some people with a learning disability and their families have been shielding without any support, making these isolating circumstances even more difficult. Now is the time to reinstate vital social care services and ensure the full extent of the Care Act is in place to protect those who need it.

Some, because they are clinically extremely vulnerable, understandably remain worried about catching coronavirus and may decide to continue to shield. For these people, Government must pledge ongoing support from the National Shielding Service with access to food and medicines. 

While many people will be relieved to have a roadmap out of lockdown, others will still have many questions about how those who have been shielding will be supported to stay safe as rules are relaxed. People with a learning disability and their families must not be forgotten as we move to this next phase.”


 For further information, contact Mencap’s media team on media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).   

For advice and information on learning disability, including advice on coronavirus and healthcare, please contactMencap’s freephoneLearning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (8am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email helpline@mencap.org.uk. Or visit Mencap’s website: www.mencap.org.uk.

About Mencap     

There is 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 and also campaigns to change laws, improve services and challenge negative attitudes towards people with a learning disability.

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.