FAQs

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Below is a selection of our most frequently asked questions. Click on any question to jump to the answer.

1. What is a learning disability?
2. What support services are available?
3. What holiday leisure activities are available?
4. What is available for Parents, Families or Carers?
5. What about advice and information?
6. Where are you based?
7. What keeps all of this going?
8. Can I do anything to help?

1. What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people.

The level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability. For example, someone with a mild learning disability may only need support with things like getting a job. However, someone with a severe or profound learning disability may need full-time care and support with every aspect of their life – they may also have physical disabilities.

People with certain specific conditions can have a learning disability too. For example, people with Down’s syndrome and some people with autism have a learning disability.

Learning disability is often confused with dyslexia and mental health problems. Mencap describes dyslexia as a “learning difficulty” because, unlike learning disability, it does not affect intellect. Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time and may be overcome with treatment, which is not true of learning disability.

It’s important to remember that with the right support most people with a learning disability in the UK can lead independent lives.

2. What support services are available?

Social Clubs and Activities

We have a range of clubs and holiday schemes catering for different age groups which run evenings, weekends and during the day during school holidays. These enable our members to have some enjoyable leisure time in a supportive environment where they can meet up with their friends and participate in a range of social activities. The clubs also give parents or carers time for a short-break from their caring responsibilities. See our Directory of Activities.

Support to Access Mainstream Activities

Access2Play is a free service which provides tailored individual support that enables children and young people with a learning disability or additional needs to participate in local after-school clubs, holiday schemes and leisure activities within their local community. Read more about the Access2Play Service.

Southampton Information Advice and Support Service

The IAS service actively promotes partnership between parents and carers of children with special educational needs and those who provide education services, e.g. Local Authority, Schools, and Educational Psychologists. Read more about the Southampton Information Advice and Support Service.

Carers In Southampton

Provides support helping family carers to understand and take up their entitlements. It offers practical assistance in a number of key areas for all carers in Southampton. Issues and concerns are shared regularly with the Local Authority to enable them to make improvements to the services available for carers and their relatives. Read more about the Carers In Southampton Service.

Independent Home Visiting Service

This service aims to provide regular visits by a volunteer to people with a learning disability living in supported housing or residential provision who have no or very little contact from family or friends. A referral form and further details can be found on our Independent Home Visitor Scheme page.

3. What holiday leisure activities are available?

We have a programme of activities catering for a range of ages available during the school and college holiday breaks. See our current Holiday Activities.

4. What is available for Parents, Families or Carers?

The Carers’ Lunch Club offers a monthly opportunity for families, parents and carers of people with a learning disability to meet together and receive relevant information over a complimentary lunch. Find out more about the Carer’s Lunch Club.

A quarterly edition of Learning Disability News is available for carers which is packed full of useful information on learning disability updates, services available and details of various support groups in the area.

5. What about advice and information?

A vital part of our work is in offering relevant, specific and timely information on learning disability issues, including benefits, wills and future planning, or signposting to relevant services.

6. Where are you based?

The address of the Mencap Centre is: 187a Portswood Road, Southampton, SO17 2NF (the lane behind NatWest Bank).

We have accessible premises in Portswood with facilities that include a well equipped kitchen, function hall and lounge. There is car parking on site too. Our Centre is used as a base for many of our on-site activities and also houses the staff team. The Centre is also available for hire on a short or long term basis on request.

7. What keeps all of this going?

A great deal of effort from a large number of people, the members, the trustees, paid staff and volunteers.

8. Can I do anything to help?

YES PLEASE! You could consider supporting us by becoming a volunteer helping perhaps within our clubs, activities or fundraising events. Experience of learning disabilities is not essential as we provide a good support package that includes shadowing opportunities and training. All you need is commitment and a passion for making life a little better for those with learning disabilities.

In addition to this, we always welcome applications from people from a range of professional or other backgrounds that have an interest in helping to oversee the governance of our charity as a trustee or committee member. If you have experience in finance or human resources, for example, we’d really be interested to hear from you.

We’re also available for “adoption” by companies seeking a local charity to support. Corporate help is of course extremely valuable to us, whether it’s through financial contributions, donation of goods or by offering free of charge professional services such as IT development and support.