Volunteers and advocates make a significant contribution to social care. The efforts of this workforce help to promote better mental and physical health in our communities. Here we meet Lloyd Page, who has been a volunteer and advocate with Mencap for an impressive 27 years.
Name, age, location, job title
My name is Lloyd Page and I am 60 years old. I’m from London and I have been a spokesperson and advocate for the rights of people with a learning disability for many years. It all began when I started volunteering at Mencap 27 years ago and I’m now in involved with a variety of organisations which support people with a learning disability.
Tell us a bit of background about yourself.
When I was 18, I joined one of Mencap’s Gateway clubs where we had discos and lots of other activities – it was great fun. I wanted to get more involved so I asked about volunteer roles and Mencap welcomed me with open arms. I’ve now been a volunteer with Mencap for 27 years!
I have volunteered to support lots of work that Mencap has done over the years. I have been an ambassador and spokesperson telling people what it is like to have a learning disability – I even got to travel to different countries to do this! I have supported all Mencap’s campaigns to make sure people with a learning disability have the same rights as everyone else – I do this on Twitter and Facebook. I have even raised money for Mencap by writing a joke book! I also take part in activities that Mencap runs – including the Round the World Challenge, charity walks and sports days – and help the programmes team to send certificates and awards to other people who have taken part in projects. Sometimes I help with putting information about what people have done into databases too. I like being in the office as well and when new people join I take them on an office tour to introduce them to everyone and let them know about all the work Mencap does.
I am very proud to volunteer for an organisation that does so much to support people with a learning disability and I recently celebrated my 27th anniversary of being a volunteer with a celebration in the office – including cake and decorations!
My role has also led to opportunities to volunteer with other organisations that support the rights of people with a learning disability. I am very passionate about healthcare and over the years I have been to many conferences where I have spoken to lots of health professionals about my own experiences.
I am a people’s person and I love to meet new people – I think they are what inspires me. Volunteering at Mencap has meant I have had the chance to meet people from other organisations which support people with a learning disability. I also volunteer for some of these now too.
For example, one of my big passions is healthcare and how nurses and doctors treat people with a learning disability. I volunteer with a lot of learning disability nurses and getting to know them has inspired me a lot. About a year ago we celebrated 100 years of learning disability nurses and I really enjoyed being a part of the event at the House of Commons. I was very proud to chair the whole day and we talked about lots of different subjects around learning disability. I also go to lots of conferences with learning disability nurses and healthcare staff where I share my own experiences so people can better understand learning disability, and I think they understand better by meeting me. I enjoy it because I get to meet lots of new people.
I’ve been lucky to meet a variety of different people and learn about different organisations through all of my volunteering and activities, like Dance Syndrome which is an inclusive dance charity, and it is these amazing projects that really inspire me.
What does your typical day look like for you?
My days can be very varied and I’m involved in all kinds of different things. I normally volunteer with Mencap around once a week and then on other days I work on other projects, often with the network of learning disability Nurses that I’m involved in. This year I might even be helping with a survey about COVID-19 with a learning disability nurse.
At Mencap, I get involved with lots of things like attending events where I share my own experiences, getting involved in media opportunities, and sometimes I join Mencap’s learning disability interview panels for job applicants. Being a part of the interview panels is one of my favourite parts of volunteering because I get to meet so many new people. I also think that inclusion is very important and that people with a learning disability should play a role in choosing who will work at Mencap and I am very proud to be a part of this. Doing interviews for television and other media is also something I’m passionate about because I think it’s so important that the public see and hear from people with a learning disability. It’s only then that they can better understand that we’re no different from anyone else.
I like my volunteer role because I can choose the things I want to be involved in, like events focused on healthcare where I can share my own lived experience. I also like to input data so sometimes I support people with this also.
How do people respond when you tell them what you do?
People have always been fantastic and very supportive. They’re normally quite impressed with everything I’ve done and all the things I’m involved in!
Is there anything that you do in your role(s) that people don’t realise?
I don’t think people realise the big range of activities that I have been involved in. I’ve spoken at a lot of events and I have even been interviewed on television and radio about issues around learning disability, both for Mencap and other organisations. I even became a reviewer recently when I wrote my first review of a film called ‘Peanut Butter Falcon’. The film is about a young man, Zac, who has Down’s Syndrome and who becomes friends with a fisherman called Tyler. They become close friends quickly and have some big adventures together in North Carolina! I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it was great to see the friendship between the two boys. I liked the idea they became a family unit and I also thought the acting was very good. But most importantly, I was very pleased that a character with a learning disability was actually played by an actor with a learning disability – instead of in films like Forrest Gump!
What’s the most rewarding part of being a spokesperson and advocate?
I love to connect with people and the most rewarding part of being an advocate is definitely meeting new people and enjoying the warmth and fun I get out of speaking and sharing my lived experiences with them.
What is the most challenging part of being a spokesperson and advocate?
The most challenging part is when people have bad attitudes and don’t understand learning disability. For example, when people use bad language. I was once called ‘mentally handicapped’ 36 times at a conference which I did not like at all. This hurts my feelings and other people’s also and I think people should be open-minded to learning about learning disability.
What has been your greatest achievement throughout all the volunteering you have done?
I’ve been involved with so many things and so there is a lot to choose from! I really enjoyed going to the House of Commons and chairing an event as part of the celebrations around 100 years of Learning Disability Nursing. More recently, I was also proud to get involved in fundraising for Mencap during Learning Disability Week (15th – 21st June 2020). I held an online quiz during the week and over 50 people took part including lots of people from Mencap and Learning Disability nurses from across the UK, as well as other people I’ve met through being involved in healthcare campaigns. It was very important to me to raise money during Learning Disability Week and I was proud to raise £450 in donations.
The money will go towards Mencap’s COVID-19 urgent appeal and will help to support people with a learning disability. This crisis is affecting everyone but it can be even harder for people with a learning disability and I’m proud to have raised this money which will help Mencap to continue to provide support.
How did you manage during the recent Coronavirus lockdown?
I was pleased that I managed very well. It was difficult at first not being able to go out and see people, but now I have gotten the chance to go out again and I’m also using technology to stay in touch with people.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I would like to thank all the people who supported my quiz during Learning Disability Week and for donating so much money to support Mencap.