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Mencap is the UK's leading learning disability charity working with people with a learning disability and their families and carers. Mencap works collaboratively, fighting for equal rights, campaigning for greater opportunities and challenging attitudes and prejudice.
Mencap also provides help and support through supported living, supported employment, respite services, organised activities, systemic and individual advocacy, and outreach support.
Mencap provides advice and support to meet people's needs throughout their lives, as an individual membership organisation with a local network of more than 450 affiliated groups. Mencap's work is membership-driven, and thanks to its work for the welfare of young people, it is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS).
Mencap, along with 14 other organisations, is a member of the Learning Disability Coalition. The Coalition was formed in May 2007 to campaign for better funding for social care for people with a learning disability in England.
Mencap has a 'sister charity' partnership with ENABLE Scotland as they do not offer services or support people with learning disabilities in Scotland.
Since 1998, at least one-third of the members of the National Assembly must be people with a learning disability.
Since 1980 the actor Brian Rix has represented the charity in a number of positions, including Secretary-General, Chairman and latterly President. The chief executive of Mencap is Mark Goldring, succeeding Dame Josephine Williams on 1 November 2008. Goldring was previously chief executive of Voluntary Service Overseas.
Established by Judy Fryd in 1946 as The National Association of Parents of Backward Children, the organisation changed its name to The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children in 1955, becoming The Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults following patronage from Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Elizabeth II in 1981.
Fryd had written to Nursery World magazine inviting other parents to contact her. Many wrote back expressing their anger and sorrow at the lack of services for their children.
Since 1969 the Society has been commonly known by the abbreviation "Mencap" (presumably from Mentally Handicapped) and, in 2002, its full legal name was shortened to the Royal Mencap Society.
In 1955, the Society opened its first project, the Orchard Dene short-stay residential home. In 1958, it launched a ground-breaking project called the Brooklands Experiment. This compared the progress of children with a learning disability who lived in hospital with a group of children who were moved to a small family environment and cared for using educational activities modelled on those in "ordinary" nurseries. After two years, the children in the home-like environment showed marked improvements in social, emotional and verbal skills. The success of the experiment was published around the world.
Supporters and ambassadors
The charity has several notable supporters such as The Edge, Duran Duran, Christopher Eccleston, Bruce Barrymore Halpenny, Joanne Salley, Norman Wisdom, Jonny Lee Miller, Snow Patrol, and Jo Whiley. Another notable fundraiser and supporter is Dame Norma Major, wife of former prime minister Sir John Major.