One in 4 young people with a learning disability aged 18-35say they have been bullied by members of the public at nightclubs or concertsand 1 in 3 have been afraid of staff at music venues, a survey has found.
The survey, by learning disability charity Mencap, alsofound that 55.6% of respondents said they would be more likely to go on nightsout if staff understood more about learning disability.
Almost 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spendless than 1 hour a day outside their homes on a Saturday.
Mencap has called on the music community to work together toeliminate this problem by remaining vigilant, asking venues to expand theirstaff training to include learning disability awareness, and announcing arecruitment drive for Mencap’s Sidekick scheme.
Kelsey Ramsey is 24 and has a learning disability, she wantsto go to more gigs, clubs and festivals but after a number of negativeexperiences, and one recently at a major festival, is afraid to do so. “When Iwas volunteering at a music festival recently a man called me a retard everytime he saw me, it really hurt my feelings and made me feel unwelcome,” shesaid. “I’ve been called the R word before, and I know that people make commentsabout me and how I look, it makes it hard to carry on doing the things I love.
“Music is one of my favourite things and I love going togigs, clubs and festivals but it isn’t something I can do a lot. It’s mainly nervesand anxiety. When you have a learning disability people look at you and judge howyou act and how you look, so that can stop me from going out because I worrypeople are going to make fun of me. It really knocks your self-confidence.
“I’m in my mid-twenties so not going to clubs and concertsmeans I don’t get to go out as much as I would like. Lots of youth clubs forpeople with a learning disability cut off at a certain age, so what are youmeant to do then? You are just leftsitting at home doing nothing. I want to be able to go out and do the samethings as other people my age but most of the time it feels impossible.”
Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns and activism for Mencap,said: “People with a learning disability have a right to a night out likeanyone else. But the reality is if you are young and have a learning disabilityyou’re likely to be blocked out of something as universal as music due to fearof staff or public attitudes. What’s worse bullying seems to be one of thereasons people with a learning disability don’t attend gigs or nightclubs andthis needs to change.
“Music should be open to everyone and I urge music venuesand live music fans to work together to tackle this issue head on by stayingever alert for incidents of bullying and ensuring venue staff have had learningdisability awareness training.”
Mencap’s Sidekick Scheme connects volunteers with peoplewith a learning disability in their area who have similar interests and helpthem get out to do the things they love, e.g going to a gig, club, cinema,theatre or the gym. The scheme helps to ensure that people with a learningdisability are able to live the life they choose and do the things they love.Find out more here.