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

“Many people with a learning disability, who often face prejudice and stigma, experienced extreme levels of social isolation and exclusion long before COVID. Mencap research has shown that 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spent less than an hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday - lockdown has only made this worse.

“And shockingly, seven in 10 people with a learning disability had their social care support stopped or cut during the pandemic with serious consequences. Without support, many people might not be able to leave their homes even as we transition out of lockdown. During the crisis, many people’s support needs have increased and they have lost vital life skills.

“The crucial thing for many people with a learning disability to live fulfilled, independent and healthy lives is access to social care support. The Government musturgently restore care services that were reduced or closed during the pandemic, as well as bring forward its social care reform plans and along-term sustainable funding solution. This will enable many people with a learning disabilitytoget the support they need as we make the transition out lockdown, as well as in the future.”


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

Notes to editors:   


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: www.mencap.org.uk          

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email helpline@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.