My Week: Richard Lawrence

The research assistant at Mencap recounts his week

Richard Lawrence
Richard Lawrence

Monday - It is Learning Disability Week, so I have to get up extremely early to sit in a radio studio and do back-to-back interviews until lunchtime. Our campaign this year, called Stand By Me, is about disability hate crime - because I have direct experience of this, I do interviews alongside David Congdon, our head of campaigns and policy. It is a big achievement for me to get through all of the interviews and share my experience. Luckily, plenty of croissants are provided to get me through the morning. By the end I feel exhausted, but very proud.

Tuesday - There is a parliamentary reception to launch our hate crime report, so I spend the afternoon talking to MPs about the campaign and what needs to change to end the abuse of people with learning disabilities. David Blunkett is there and Paul Burstow, the care services minister, makes a speech. I have to stand up and talk about my personal experience of hate crime. I feel nervous at first, but once I see the MPs are listening it's a lot easier. The MPs I speak to are very interested in the report and pledge their support.

Wednesday - As part of Learning Disability Week, events are held across the country. I go to an event in Oxford to make another speech about the Stand By Me campaign. I feel well rehearsed by now, so don't get too nervous. I get to talk to police officers in Oxford about their views on disability hate crime. It is my first time in Oxford, so it is great to see the city; but unfortunately I have to get back to London before long.

Friday - This is my day at the Mencap National Centre in London, so I'm doing some planning and organising - and plenty of talking. I work with the chief executive, Mark Goldring, and spend time attending meetings where I give presentations on Mencap's work. We have to make sure we are always putting the needs of the people we support first, so it is important that somebody with a learning disability takes part in these activities. I put some time in preparing for meetings we've got coming up.

Mencap supports people with learning disabilities.

- Richard Lawrence is a research assistant at Mencap

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