Resistance in Mencap's History

Tilley, Liz (2006). Resistance in Mencap's History. In: Mitchell, Duncan; Traustadottir, Rannveig; Chapman, Rohhss; Townson, Louise; Ingham, Nigel and Ledger, Sue eds. Exploring Experiences of Advocacy by People with Learning Disabilities: Testimonies of Resistance. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 128–141.



Since its inception in 1946, Mencap has grown to become the largest voluntary organization with a learning disability remit in the UK. Over the course of its history, Mencap has resisted and challenged society’s attitudes and prejudices towards people with learning difficulties whilst fighting for important changes in policy and service provision. Mencap adopted a discourse of resistance from its earliest days which helped to raise the organization’s profile and aid its growth. However, Mencap has also been the subject of resistance - from within its own organizational structures, as well as from service users, parents and academics. The growth of the self-advocacy movement, alongside changing assumptions about the rights of people with learning difficulties and the extension of Mencap’s activities into widespread service provision, challenged Mencap to renegotiate its identity as an organization both for and of people with learning difficulties in the 1990s. Resistance has been a key theme in Mencap’s history, but has emerged in a complex array of forms.

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