In the audition, to become Mencap’s new charity ambassador, Kit is interviewed by Ciara and Lloyd, who both have a learning disability, and are unimpressed by his lack of jokes and questionable impression of Freddie Mercury ballads.
The video, made by the learning disability charity Mencap, aims to raise awareness of the challenges people with a learning disability face. Kit Harington’s cousin, Laurent, has a learning disability and has been supported by Mencap throughout his life.
Kit Harington, Mencap ambassador, said:
My cousin Laurent is one of the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Growing up with Laurent I know that people with a learning disability have the same hopes and dreams for their lives as all young people do. However others are sometimes awkward and afraid when it comes to engaging with someone with a learning disability and that means they are often ignored and overlooked.
We need to change this and stop ignoring the talents and contributions that people with a learning disability can bring to our society. That's why I was really keen to work with Mencap - and Ciara and Lloyd, who both have a learning disability - to make this video which we hope will bring smiles to a few people's faces. Usually when you hear about learning disability in the media it’s the horrific impact of abuse scandals or the effects of Government social care cuts. That's important, but it's not everything - it's not how I think about learning disability, or how I feel when I'm hanging out with Laurent, who is an important, positive and really funny member of my family. The media has a role to reflect society and help give people with a learning disability a platform to be heard.
Let’s show my cousin Laurent and Lloyd and Ciara and thousands of others that their lives are valued just as much as anyone else in society.
Ciara Lawrence, who has a learning disability, works for Mencap and appears in the film said:
When I was diagnosed with my learning disability I felt really negative. Everyone told me what I couldn’t do rather than what would be possible to do in my life. However, now I have a full-time job, I have been married for nearly 3 years and I have just starred alongside Kit Harington in a short film!
It’s not very often that people with a learning disability get to have their voices heard. Everything is negative and the public never get a chance to see the positive things we can do with the right support. I hope videos like this can show the public that we’re not so different to everyone else.
Kit has a cousin with a learning disability and knows how important it is for the public to understand what a learning disability is. Hopefully people who watch the video will realise that people like me aren’t so different. We want to be listened to and included like everyone, and just need a bit of help along the way – just like Kit does in this interview!
Lloyd Page, who has a learning disability and has been working with Mencap for over 22 years said:
I absolutely loved filming with Kit. It was a long day of filming and I messed up my lines a few times but he told me not to worry, everyone on the Game of Thrones set does the same!
I’ve spent most of my life trying to raise awareness of learning disability, but it’s so important that people as famous as Kit want to help people with a learning disability have a voice in the media. He is able to reach people I can only dream of. I’ve often found it hard to be heard and have suffered from people not understanding about my learning disability. From poorer healthcare due to Doctors who don’t understand learning disability and negative public attitudes that made me feel alone at times, there’s a lot that we can make better for the 1.5. million people with a learning disability.
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. As it stands they experience inequalities in every aspect of their life. Mencap works with people with a learning disability to change laws, challenge prejudice and support them to live their lives as they choose and help break these inequalities:
- 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably every year in our NHS.
- 56%of disabled people say that they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger due to their condition or impairment.
- Pupils with Special Educational Needs are eight times more likely to be permanently excluded from their peers who do not have these needs.
- By the sage of 19 young disabled people are three times more likely not to be in education, employment or training.
- Almost 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spend less than 1 hour outside their homes on a Saturday.
- Just 6% of people with a learning disability are in paid work. This is despite approximately 8 in 10 working age people with a learning disability having a mild or moderate learning disability and having the ability to work.
For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
There are 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 Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email email@example.com.
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’.