The organisation that is now Reading Mencap is a small local charity that was founded in 1962 by local parents of children and adults with Learning Disability (LD) and Autism to help themselves and others to provide support for their dependents so that they could lead a full and active life in their community.  To understand about what a learning disability is see 'What is learning disability' shown below.

We now provide services from birth and throughout life for parents/carers and children and adults with LD and aim to reduce inequality in statutory services, combat isolation and discrimination, and to bring to local people an experience of having people with LD as part of their community.  This could be a mixed choir carol-singing in a local church at Christmas, adults with LD taking part in a campaign about a local issue or carers speaking out for themselves at local forums.  

We have our own premises in central Reading, The Centre, at 21 Alexandra Road, near the Royal Berks Hospital. This includes offices, a meeting space and a large club room and garden.

Find out more about our activities by clicking on one of the many menu links on this page, both at the top and at the left side.

Reading Mencap needs the support of its community to continue to support its most vulnerable members, parents/carers and those they care for, children and adults with learning disabilities.  Join us or donate small sum via our 'Donate' button on our Home Page to help us with this vital work.

Join Reading Mencap

Joining Reading Mencap helps us to continue our work to improve services for people with learning disability and their families.  As a member you will receive our newsletter three times a year, enjoy a number of highly subsidised and exclusive member events like our Christmas Disco and Buffet and our Summer Barbecue and have priority booking on our FREE short break trips and spa breaks.

Membership still only costs £15 per year.  To obtain a membership form ring our office on 0118 9662518 or ask via our contact page 'Contact Us' on the left hand menu and one will be sent to you.

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teamWhat is Learning Disability?

Having a learning disability means that you may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks that most of us take for granted, like getting dressed, shopping or making a meal, getting around, having a job, understanding simple instructions or working out problems.  You may have speech difficulties not understand fully what other people are saying, or not be able to speak at all.  You may need more time to perform tasks or get very anxious about normal everyday problems like the bus being late, a letter arriving that you can't read or someone asking you to do something you have never done before.

Different kinds of Learning Disability

Learning disability (LD) appears in many different forms in children, often apparent from birth and sometimes appearing to develop in infancy.  Apart from familiar disorders like Down's Syndrome, Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, learning disability takes many other forms some mild, some severe, which may be more or less familiar to the public.  Physical difficulties and health problems can often co-exist making a very complex picture when considering needs. 

Learning disabilities have no respect for class or income but families on low incomes living in disadvantaged areas of the town have less resources, in terms of energy, opportunity or emotional resilience to help them to access help.   Disabilities don't come in carefully delineated packages, they are often complicated and it is not uncommon for one person to have several disorders co-existing, like Down's Syndrome, autism and heart problems or autism, epilepsy and dyspraxia.  Cerebral palsy can have both associated learning and physical disabilities or just the latter.  Asperger Syndrome can appear with a high IQ but also with mental health problems.  Support can be required in a range of ways from a little extra help to live independently to full residential 24-hour care. 

Effects of Learning Disability

Loneliness, isolation, unemployment and depression are often significant problems for adults with disabilities and, as with the elderly, there is little provision for support.  There are an estimated 2576 people in Reading with a learning disabiity but only around 449 got support in 2013/14 from the local authority. Only 5% of people with learning disability work even though 65% want to, so it is difficult to have a purpose in life if you have no work, don't feel useful or have little independence.   However, the voluntary sector excels in the area of providing information, support and activity and leisure services for people with learning disabiltiy and their families because their hearts are engaged with the need.

Help Line

We run a help line which is open from 9.30 to 1.30, Monday to Friday with an answerphone service at all other times.  Tel: 0118 9662518


The Centre functions as a Drop-In for anyone who needs information, advice or support on diagnosis, benefits, education, housing, health & social care and respite services, leisure and legal.  We are open from 9.30 to 1.30 Monday to Friday, and there is always someone there to help and advise as well as a full range of literature to take away.

Family Support Team

Our team of Family Advisers are an outreach service who are there to give support and information with those problems which need a bit more help to sort out.  You can reach them on our help-line, or by appointment at our drop-in Centre, or, if you prefer and would like to talk in the comfort of your own home, we can do that too.  Family Advisers are also supported by a Family Support Worker who gives practical support where needed with appointments or form filling etc.  All the team are experienced and qualified people in learning disability, see our Family Support page for more details.

Clubs and Activities

We run a range of clubs for children and adults, a support and events service for carers and other events for families and siblings throughout the year including school holidays.


We sit on many forums and steering groups like the Learning Disability Partnership Board, the Carers Steering Group, the Autism Partnership Board and we run the LD Carers Forum in Reading to give a voice to learning disability/  We use our contacts at both local and national level when issues arise where action can be taken. Our aim is to empower parents and individuals to help them to help themselves, so that they can choose how they want to live their lives.  Statutory services don't always understand the problems that face people with LD or their families and carers on a daily basis, but we do because our members tell us, every day and many of us are parents of children or adults with LD ourselves.


Use our Contact Us page to seek answers to queries, provide feedback, or make comments on Reading Mencap.