During Learning Disability Week (17 – 23 June) it is a time to raise awareness of learning disability and get people connected. However, new research from Mencap has found that bullying is causing more people with learning disabilities to experience isolation.
Leading learning disability charity, Mencap has found that fears over being bullied is leading to social isolation for people with learning disabilities.
A survey of 1,000 adults, aged over 18, revealed that one in threepeople with a learning disability said that being bullied is one of the things they worry about most when they go out.
The top three issues that worry people with a learning disability were: a fear of people calling them names or bullying; using public transport; and/or getting lost.
Vijay Patel, Mencap Ambassador who has a learning disability, experienced bullying at school and social isolation.
He was discriminated against in many ways, including always being picked last in PE because of his learning disability. This affected his confidence and made him feel excluded.
“Every time it came to picking teams my classmates just saw my learning disability and thought I wasn’t good enough,” remembers Vijay.
“Being picked last made me feel really low. I didn’t have many friends at school and I didn’t feel included. It also made me feel like I couldn’t take part in the things I wanted to do.”
Now, Mencap – who has teamed up with Virgin Money – is encouraging more people with learning disabilities to get active this Learning Disability Week to tackle social isolation.
“Everything changed when I joined my local Mencap group to take part in sporting activities with other people with a learning disability,” continues Vijay.
“I enjoyed taking part in sport every month and it made me feel less isolated. It helped me go from low confidence to high confidence.
“Now I play in a football team and they’ve made me the vice-captain. I am also part of the Mencap running group – something I never got to do before – and also play softball and ten-pin bowling. These opportunities have given me the confidence to believe in myself and prove that I can do it.
“The most important thing to me as a person with a learning disability is that I don’t want to be left out.
“No one should be left out, everyone should be included. By taking part in sport, I want to show other people with a learning disability that they can do it too.”
HERE WE ARE
You can get active this week and beyond, too, by attending Mencap’s Here We Are events during Learning Disability Week. There will be 15 events and activities taking place across the UK to get more people out and about.