Charity merges helplines into one freephone service

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Mental health charity Mencap has reported a significant surge in calls from people with a learning disability and their families across the country, with overall calls to the helpline about community care increasing by 139 per cent in the past 12 months.

Many of the calls have concerned cuts to support, fears about community care assessments and eligibility criteria changes by local authorities.

A recent report by Mencap, Stuck At Home, revealed that one in four adults with a learning disability now spend less than one hour outside of the home as a result of changes to eligibility criteria, reduced funding and day service closures in many areas.

In light of increased demand for its advice lines, Mencap has decided to merge its two helplines into one freephone service, which it believes will make it easier for people with a learning disability to receive the support and information that they need.

From Monday a free helpline, Mencap Direct, will provide information on services which are available to people with a learning disability, such as employment and housing support, and advice on a wide range of issues including social care, abuse, bullying and health. Specialist helpline advisers will also be able to offer guidance on personal budgets and support plans.

Mencap assistant director Steve McIlvenny said: “The surge in calls to Mencap in the past 12 months reflects the challenges that many people with a learning disability now face due to the increased financial pressures on local authorities. We know these changes have left many people in isolated and worried about the future, and in need of easier access to better information and advice.”

Mencap Direct is a one stop shop for any questions about learning disability issues and services, including information about things like benefits, personal relationships and education.

You can call Mencap Direct for free on 0808 808 1111, email help@mencap.org.uk or visit www.mencapdirect.org.uk.