Mencap is the leading voice for those with learning disabilities in the UK, raising awareness, valuing and supporting individuals, their families and carers to ensure a better and more inclusive future. Mencap have a network of over 300 local groups, reaching people across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The range of services Mencap provide can include anything to try to help in any area of a person’s life where they need support, such as employment and education advice or helping someone to live independently for the first time.

StreetGames aim to improve lives and ensure better futures for disadvantaged young people through sport. One way they do this is by upskilling staff, coaches and volunteers in their network in the form of training workshops. Some of the attendees have learning disabilities and with the aid of Mencap and their employee Abdul in particular, StreetGames are shaping their delivery to be as inclusive and comfortable as possible for those with learning disabilities.

Abdul

Before joining Mencap I was introduced to a member of StreetGames staff by a friend. I found James, the tutor, really engaging and wanted to be involved in more of StreetGames’ work. Because of this I have taken 6 StreetGames Activator courses which have not only helped me make friends, but have also made me more confident to deliver games and sports to other people. The courses also taught me communication, leadership and organisational skills which helped me to get my job at Mencap.

I am now working as a co-trainer for Mencap’s ‘Learning Disability in Sport’ workshop, teaching coaches and other sports professionals about learning disabilities and how to adapt their coaching. In the past I have been a member of Greenwich Mencap’s Committee Plus, which allows those with learning disabilities in the organisation to have a voice and provide input at the top level.

Unfortunately, like others, I have sometimes struggled to take part in some courses where my needs haven’t been taken fully into consideration. On some courses the trainers or tutors have used complicated language, words and a communication style that is difficult to understand, and because I have a short attention span, I found myself losing focus easily. Although I have had many good experiences, sometimes simple things have been forgotten about such as allowing me extra time to complete tasks, and showing information in a bold, large font, which I need to be able to read it. When this happens, I feel agitated, frustrated and less likely to come back for more training.

Going Forward

StreetGames have always taken steps to ensure all their workshops are 100% inclusive for everyone, something which Abdul praises them for and says that his experiences on the Activator Training workshops has helped him, in his current trainer role at Mencap.

When I arrived at my very first activator, I had a very warm welcome. I took the tutor to the side, because I was a little worried about my eye condition and learning disability. He re-assured me, gave me extra time to complete the tasks and was there to support me throughout. I have learned so much from James and the way he provides opportunities and delivers, and I try and copy this when I deliver my own workshops.”

StreetGames are striving to make their training offer as good as it can be for all involved and are delighted that Abdul and his willingness to share his personal views and experiences has helped to drive further positive change. Mencap and StreetGames are now national partners, something which Abdul’s colleague Matthew says was a ‘no-brainer’ due to the extensive support and care StreetGames’ tutors have shown to Abdul since his first Activator.

Round the World Challenge

At the start of 2020, both charities pledged to deliver the learning disability in sport workshop to 500 people within 3 years as an integral part of the ‘Round the World Challenge’, only for delivery to be stopped after four workshops due to Covid-19. Plans for virtual workshops are underway with a view to continue in 2021.

In partnership with Sport England and The National Lottery, Mencap deliver Round the World Challenge across England. Round the World Challenge aims to support people with a learning disability to get out and get active in a way that is flexible, fun and motivating, turning hours of fun physical activities and sports into a round the world adventure.