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As COVID-19 has forced businesses to change where and how they work this year, the UK’s leading learning disability charity Mencap is now calling on employers to think differently about who they employ.

The pandemic has highlighted the invaluable contribution people with a learning disability and/ or autism can make as hardworking and valued employees, say Mencap.

The charity supports people with a learning disability and/or autism into a wide range of industries – from supermarkets to logistics and hospitals to hotels.

Peter was supported by Mencap into his first paid job at a supermarket and found the job change significantly during lockdown, with panic buying, a queuing system and the need to wear masks. Even though it was harder, Peter was glad to be there:

“I’m proud that I worked during lockdown… It was a bonus to go to work and have something to do. If I didn’t have the job, I’d be lost.”

Another keyworker Katie worked in the NHS throughout the pandemic. Her role involves cleaning so her workload increased and everything in the hospital changed. She said:

“It might be hard but I appreciate having a job. I like talking to the doctors and learning new things from other people.”

Mark Capper, head of development in the Lifestyles & Work team at Mencap, said: “The world of work has been thrown upside down by COVID. Now is the time for employers to think differently about who they hire.

“People with a learning disability and autism can work and want to work and with the right support they can also make fantastic employees – with some even working as the keyworkers we’ve all relied on to keep things moving. They just need a chance to show they can do it.”

Find out more about Learning Disability Work Week 2020 at: www.mencap.org.uk/ldworkweek. For advice and support from Mencap, visit: https://www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/employment-services.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (8am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email helpline@mencap.org.uk    

  • 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.