End the Awkward is coming

Most people feel awkward around disability. This summer we want to End the Awkward.

Not enough people come into contact with disabled people. So when they do, they don’t know what to do. They panic, or worse, avoid situations for fear of doing the wrong thing. We call this ‘innocent ignorance’. End the Awkward is all about changing that.

Last year, our campaign received a huge response. Our adverts – spoof public service broadcasts featuring Channel 4 presenter Alex Brooker – reached over 20 million people, including more than 1.5 million on YouTube alone.

More than 160,000 people read our tips for ending the awkward. Over 100 stories appeared across the media covering national, regional and even international websites and newspapers. We found 81% of those who saw our ads said they had made them think differently – and that’s why we’re doing it again.

How we’re going to End the Awkward

This year, we’re planning an entire season of End the Awkward. We hope to get more people talking about awkwardness, sharing their stories and thinking differently about disability.

We don’t want to give it all away, but we’re planning loads of exciting content.

Last year lots of people were inspired by the campaign to share their own stories of awkwardness and disability, this year we want even more anecdotes and we’re planning new ways of sharing them.

To kick things off Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte is sharing his awkward moments.

We’re also excited to announce that later in the summer we’re also going to partnering with a major broadcaster on some short films that will take awkward scenarios to the next level.

We’re still a few weeks away from our big launch, but you can either check back on the End the Awkward page or you can sign up to our mailing list and we’ll send you everything you need to End the Awkward.

Have you got your own awkward story? Share it with us. We’d love to hear it.

Why decision makers should listen to people with a learning disability about jobs

This week is Learning Disability Week and we have a blog from Mencap’s Campaigns Assistants who have a learning disability, interviewing each other about employment and learning disabilities.

For Learning Disability Week 2015, we want more people to know what a learning disability is – and that includes employers. Members of Mencap’s campaigns team give their thoughts on what the barriers are to finding work, and what needs to change so employers wise-up.

What are your jobs?

Ciara – I’m a full time Campaigns Assistant in Mencap’s Campaigns and activism team. I go out and talk to groups of people with a learning disability about our campaigns and encourage them to sign up. I also go and talk to MPs about the issues people with a learning disability face.

Leroy – I am a Campaigns Assistant also. I do a lot of work on the Changing Places campaign.

Ismail – I am the Parliamentary Affairs Assistant. I work with MP’s and Lords in parliament.

Josie – I am a Campaigns Assistant and I also work on the switchboard at Mencap.

Youssef – I am a Campaigns Assistant / Engager. I like to talk!

What are the barriers to employment that people with a learning disability face?

Leroy – Discrimination at the interview stage. Employers won’t give us a chance because we have a disability.

Josie – Who knows! They should give us a try!

Leroy – We’re not given the opportunity.

Ismail – The interview process isn’t accessible. Work trials are more accessible for people with a learning disability.

Leroy – Some employers are not prepared to make reasonable adjustments to help people at work.

Youssef – Not having accessible documents is a barrier. Like application forms being very long and complicated.

Ismail – Employers not knowing about Access to Work is a barrier. Access to Work can help employers to pay for the extra costs of employing a person with a disability.

Youssef – I think another barrier is people with a learning disability not knowing their rights.

Ismail – Especially around minimum wage and people not getting paid properly.

Ciara – It is important that decision makers listen to people with a learning disability about jobs because we have a right to work and we want to work. Only 7% of people with a learning disability have a job, but at Mencap we know people with a learning disability want to work.

What are some ways people with a learning disability can be supported at work?

Josie – Employers should talk to the person and be patient. Listen to what we need.

Youssef – Shadowing more experienced staff so people can learn the job and see what they do. Work experience and work trials before you get a job to be better prepared.

Leroy – Some jobs can be ring fenced for people with a learning disability. This means that only people with a learning disability can apply for them.

Ismail – Job Carving is cutting up a role into different parts that can become separate jobs.

Ciara – Employers need to make reasonable adjustments for the person when they get the job so they can have the right support to do a job to a good standard and be able to keep the job.

Leroy – Access to Work can pay for job coaches and supporters that can support people with a learning disability to learn the job and in work.

Youssef – If you have trouble travelling it can also help you to get to work.

What would you say about people with a learning disability getting into work to Priti Patel, the Employment Minister?

Leroy – I would say that employers need to think of the person not the disability first and give people a fair chance.

Ciara – I would say to Priti Patel the Employment Minister that it is really important that people with a learning disability are able to get a job with the right support.

Ismail – People don’t want to be felt sorry for. We want the chance to show we can do a job of our choice like any one else. Employment for people with a learning disability is only 7% but many more want to work. I don’t think this is good enough.

Youssef – I want the government to realise that people need help to find a job. They need something to fall back on and get extra help to find jobs – like a pathway.

Ismail – People should have a choice of jobs and get the right support. Access to Work should be known by all employers. This would make sure that people with a learning disability can get the best job for them and get the right support for that individual to do well.

Ciara – People with a learning disability make really good employees and that employers need to hire more employees with a learning disability.

Visit Mencap’s website to find out more about Learning Disability Week and how to get involved or learn about how to become an Inclusive Employer