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 Commissioner to Attend Carlisle Mencap DVD Launch 31 January

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall will attend the launch of Carlisle Mencap’s DVD on 31 January, aimed at encouraging people with learning disabilities to report sexual abuse.

The Commissioner was interested to find out why people with learning disabilities seemed to be reluctant to report these crimes, and commissioned Carlisle Mencap to do some work to find out why this was the case and then produce materials to encourage reporting.

In their research,  Carlisle Mencap discovered that very often people didn't report sexual abuse because they didn't understand or recognise what the abuse was - they didn't know it was a crime and they didn't know they could report it. Many didn't really know what 'sex' meant. This is in part due to the reluctance of family and professionals to discuss these issues with them.

The result of the research is the production of a very sensitive film which tackles the topic in an easy to understand  way without frightening or distressing the audience. The film can be used to educate people to understand what sexual exploitation is, to stay safe and report crimes in the future. The film is called ‘Is it OK’?  and will be available as a DVD or on-line.

Peter McCall said: “I’m really impressed at the innovative way such a sensitive issue has been tackled, as research shows that sexual abuse is often a taboo and very tricky subject for people with learning disabilities and their families.  I think Carlisle Mencap has done a great job in producing the film, and I believe that through education and awareness raising of such serious issues, more people will be able to keep themselves safe, and have confidence to report a crime in future.”

 Sheila Gregory from Carlisle Mencap said:

“We are so grateful that the Commissioner chose to support this work on this very difficult subject. It’s really ground breaking - I haven’t seen anything like this before. Most similar projects have not been very accessible to disabled people because disabled people haven’t been part of the creative team. People with disabilities are more often subject to abuse than the rest of the public but it is rarely discussed or reported because of the difficulties around communication and the embarrassment the rest of us feel about tackling the subject. We really believe this work can help people with learning disabilities to be safer.”

Peter McCall and Sheila Gregory will be available for interview at The Old Fire Station, Carlisle, 11am - 11:30am

For further information on Carlisle MENCAP or this story call Sheila Gregory, 01228 674393 or 07881 940447

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About Carlisle Mencap. Local people with disabled children set up the charity in 1968. Today they have over 200 members and provide services for over 300 people with learning disabilities and their families in North Cumbria.Their services include residential respite care for adults, children’s home based respite, community support, young people’s clubs, young people’s holidays, family support workers for young people with autism, holidays, leisure activities and befriending. They are currently developing the Grace Little centre for disabled children.

For further information please on Carlisle Mencap or this story call Sheila Gregory, 01228 674393 or 07881 940447