Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Mencap launches online TV channel during lockdown

Learning disability charity Mencap have launched a new online video platform called ‘Mencap TV’ to help with lockdown loneliness. It is available on YouTube here.

The charity has also created a wider hub of accessible resources including easy read versions of official government guidance, activity planners, and templates to help combat anxiety, loneliness, and maintain routine, which is important for some people with a learning disability

The new channel, hosted on YouTube, is co-created by and features people with a learning disability and has been set up in response to the current social distancing restrictions and ‘lockdown’. Mencap TV is regular instructional and fun videos for people with a learning disability to watch and follow along at home.

Increased loneliness and lockdown

Since the lockdown measures came in to place research found:

  • Almost half (45.1%) of disabled adults, compared with around a third (30.2%) of non-disabled adults, reported being very worried about the effect the Coronavirus pandemic is having on their life. Nearly 9 in 10 disabled adults (86.3%) reported they are very worried or somewhat worried.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64.8%) of disabled adults said COVID-19-related concerns were affecting their well-being.
  • Disabled adults were significantly more likely than non-disabled adults to report spending too much time alone; around a third (35.0%) of disabled adults reported this compared to a fifth (19.9%) of non-disabled adults.
  • Finding a way to stay in touch with friends and family remotely is the most popular action that is helping people cope while staying at home; however, spending time with members of their household was a less frequent form of coping for disabled (41.9%) than non-disabled adults (63.5%).

Mencap TV aims to bring some structure and fun to people at home with a learning disability, who may be feeling lonely and struggling to cope with the loss of their routine. New videos are being released daily via the channel and cover every day activities and themes including simple cooking tutorials, fitness workouts, arts and crafts ideas and quizzes. All the videos posted on Mencap TV feature someone with a learning disability or people who support them.

Edel Harris, CEO of Mencap, said:

“This is an uncertain and strange time for everyone and we want to make sure that people with a learning disability feel supported and are not left uninformed due to a lack of accessible information. Mencap would like to thank the other learning disability organisations who have shared their resources with us. Whatever happens during this pandemic, we won’t give up on our mission to transform society’s attitudes to learning disability and improve the quality of life of people with a learning disability and their families.”

“People with a learning disability already face extreme levels of social isolation and loneliness – they are seven times more likely to feel lonely than the general population – and the coronavirus crisis is only exacerbating this.

“It is shocking to see that over a third of disabled people are spending too much time alone during lockdown, we know that for people with a learning disability this picture is likely to be even worse. The closure of day services, loss of routine, difficulties staying in touch with family and keeping active means that they are struggling to cope, and we know from our work that it’s having a negative impact on their wellbeing, health and mental health.

“At Mencap we are trying hard to fill that gap. We have boosted capacity on our helpline, created an easy-read information and advice hub on our website and launched Mencap TV, an online TV channel with instructional and fun videos for people to watch and follow along at home. Our extraordinary support workers are working extremely hard in challenging circumstances to create a sense of normality and community – holding discos in living rooms and building shops in garden shed. They are the only contact some people have.

“But only a small proportion of the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK receive social care support and there is a real risk that more people might slip though the net with tragic consequences as the Care Act easements come into force. The Government must make sure that the emergency funding that is so desperately needed gets to frontline support services so that everyone, including people with a learning disability, can get the support they need to stay safe and well during this crisis.”

Harry Roche, Ambassador at Mencap who has a learning disability and features on Mencap TV, said:

“We are so proud to launch Mencap TV for the 1.5 million people with a learning disability to watch, follow and enjoy from home. These challenging times are hard for everyone but they can be especially tough for people with a learning disability. Mencap TV has something for everyone and will help with structure and keeping busy – I’ve filmed a few videos including a sandwich making tutorial which I hope will be useful to people!

“Mencap have also created a wider hub of online resources on their website and downloadable activities to ensure that there is as much accessible information and inclusive content available to people with a learning disability as possible.

“This includes easy read versions of official government documents, advice and guidelines about staying safe, easy read explanations of important legal changes and downloadable activity planners, crafts, games and a daily thoughts and feelings planner. These resources are being updated and reviewed on a continuing basis in line with new developments around the pandemic”.

The charity’s Learning Disability Helpline is also continuing to support people with a learning disability and their families, providing expert information on everything from coronavirus to policy changes, as well as legal advice and crisis support.

To see all of Mencap’s useful resources and updates on coronavirus please visit mencap.org.uk

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