Calls to helpline for the disabled rocket

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The number of calls made from Herts to a helpline for the disabled has rocketed in the space of a year.

Between April and June Mencap received 21 calls to its helpline from people in the county, compared with just one in the same period last year.

The charity says the bulk of calls came from parents seeking advice about education and schooling but there were also enquiries about the effects of changes to the benefits system.

A Mencap spokesman said: “With regards to social care, housing and benefits, these calls usually fell within the parameters of changes to the assessment process and eligibility criteria, which has seen many people with a learning disability seeing a reduction in the social care services and benefits they receive.”

Nationally the charity has seen a 139 per cent increase in calls over the past year and it has decided to merge its helplines into a single freephone service.

Assistant director Steve McIlvenny said: “The surge in calls to Mencap in the past 12 months reflects the challenges that many people with a learning disability now face.

“We know changes have left many people isolated and worried about the future, and in need of easier access to better information and advice.”

You can call Mencap Direct for free on 0808 808 1111, email help@mencap.org.uk or visit www.mencapdirect.org.uk

There are 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability.