What we do

The Voices Council meet 6 times each year. They use a workplan to focus the priorities of the group, as well as the agenda of the trustee board who then meet the following day.

Voices council meeting

Our views

The views of the Voices Council are then shared at the trustee board meeting by the Chair and the rest of the Voices Council.

Meet the Voices Council

Meet some of members of the Voices Council and hear why they wanted to take part.

Who's who

Click on each of the names below to meet and find out more about the people who make up the Voices Council.

Jack Welch - Chair

Picture of Jack Welch

I live in Weymouth, Dorset. I enjoy and feel lucky that I live near the coast.

I have been interested in the news and current affairs since I was a child.

I enjoy sweet foods; cheesecake, brownies or hot cookie dough with ice cream are my favourites.

I use my voice to advocate for people with Autism and a learning disability. I do this through blogging, Twitter, activism, campaigning and research.

Sam Jefferies - Vice Chair

Picture of Sam Jefferies

I live on the Isle of Wight.

I like to visit my friends when I can and we go to music festivals together in the summer months.

I’m a very practical person and enjoy mending electronics. I use website forums for advice if something is to tricky to fix.

I am an active campaigner and have won the People’s Choice Campaigner award for my work on cutting of ESA benefits. I have worked with other organisations in the past around campaigning and I’m currently working on a campaign around cancer awareness, as well as Mencap's Treat me well campaign.

Dave Taylor

Portrait photograph of older man, Dave Taylor, with grey moustache, wearing a grey shirt, smiling into camera.

It’s important to me that I have my own place to live. I live on my own in a flat and I have great neighbours.

I am great at playing table tennis and I play at my local Gateway Club on Wednesday nights.

I enjoy Rugby Union and I support a local team from the Wirral. I go and to see them play when I can. I also like watching films, especially Westerns. 

I am friendly and a nice person to talk to.

Karen Gray

Picture of Karen Gray

I work at Tesco 3 days a week and I enjoy my job.

Keeping fit is important to me and I go swimming once a week and to the gym 3 or 4 times a week.

I like to watch period dramas like Downton Abbey, but my favourite TV program is Casualty. I also like to go to the cinema.

I’m great at meeting new people and getting out and about, and I’m friendly and caring.

I’m part of many different boards and campaigns for people with learning disabilities, including the Learning Disability Partnership board, health and wellbeing group in North Lincolnshire, Expert by Experience and Mencap’s Treat me well campaign.

John Phillips

Picture of John Philips

I was a Mencap trustee from 2008 to 2017 and have been a volunteer since 1986, when I set up a social and leisure club on the Isle of Wight called ‘John's Club’.

I have fostered children with challenging behaviour since 1993 in both short and long term placements.

I was also awarded an MBE in 2014 for services to disabled people.

Barbara Norris

Picture of Barbara Norris

I live in Belfast, and joined the forum when it began in November 2015.

I have 3 different jobs working in Ikea and Starbucks. I also do a lot of work for Mencap as an Inclusion Consultant, Young People’s Forum and my role in the Voices Council. I love all my jobs and like to be busy.

I enjoy doing things like swimming, drama, ten pin bowling, running club and playing tag rugby. I also like to go to the cinema and eat out in restaurants with my boyfriend, James.

I’m a caring and laid back person and think I’m easy to get on with too. 

Aisha Edwards

Picture of Aisha Edwards

I love music and singing; people say I’m like a Jukebox! I sing a lot and like to sing in my room.

I work at the Young Vic theatre in London and I love my job.

I like spending time with my boyfriend, Ian. We go to restaurants together and we both like Caribbean food. We also go to museums and art galleries and we like walking. 

I am great at talking to people and making them see the positive in things. I am a positive and friendly person.

Paul Savage

Portrait photograph of man, Paul Savage, with short grey hair, wearing grey striped polo shirt, looking into camera.

I’m Paul, I live in Sheffield and I’ve been an Inclusion Group member for the last 2 years, but I’ve been involved with Mencap for a lot longer.

The Our Voices group gives me the chance to have my say about issues that are important to people with a learning disability, and I get to help shape some of the things that Mencap does.

I’m really in to watching soap operas on TV and would like to see lots more people with disabilities on the TV and in the media.

Sara Pickard

Portrait photograph of woman, Sara Pickard, with short blonde hair and glasses, wearing turquoise top, looking into camera.

I love dancing and have been doing it since I was 6 years old. When I dance it’s like my escape.

I also enjoy acting and have been on 2 tours with the Odyssey Theatre company.

My job with Mencap is important  to me, as are my colleagues that are around me, they are all supportive people.

I am a very sociable person and I like to spend time with my friends, family and my boyfriend, Simon.

I am great at giving presentations and have good skills when talking to an audience. I think I am good fun to be with and I also have a caring nature.


Jack, the Chair of the Voices Council, and Sam, the Vice-Chair, have had their roles extended to September 2022. You can read more about this in our statement here.

Our history

Find out a little bit more about the Voices Council and how we formed.

The Voices Council was formed in 2018. It used to be called the Learning Disability Advisory Forum.

The group was renamed to the Voices Council to show the major changes in what they want to achieve and how they can achieve it by feeding directly into the board of trustees.

The roles of Chair and Vice Chair of the Voices Council are paid posts, and all other members receive an annual payment from Mencap in recognition of their valued contributions.

I found the discussion with the Voices Council very valuable. 
The insight they offered has really shaped my thinking about our approach to communications
Jackie O’Sullivan, executive director of communication, advocacy and activism.

Our progress

The list below shows the topics the Voices Council have shared their views on.

  • Mencap’s statement on pre-natal screening
  • Mencap’s Treat Me Well campaign
  • Mencap’s Personal Support strategy
  • Mencap’s approach to safeguarding
  • Mencap’s new communication strategy
  • all 5 of Mencap's key priority areas (early years, supporting adults, stigma and attitudes, friendships and relationships and health)
  • employment; which, following the Voices Council's reccomendation, the board agreed to make a sixth key priority area
  • joint visits to Mencap services with trustee partners
  • the way that Mencap evaluates their impact on people's lives
  • how Mencap could use the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon to help the public learn more about people with a learning disability
  • reviewing and amending Mencap's quality policy and complaints process
  • what Mencap should do about the big learning disability survey results.

Our projects

Click the headings below to find out about the different things that the Voices Council are working on and getting involved in.

Inclusion standards

At Mencap, we always aim to be truly inclusive.

We believe that true inclusion should not be something that happens in special 'inclusion' meetings at certain times, about specific 'inclusive' topics, separate from day to day life. True inclusion must be for everyone, everywhere, every day. Exclusion should only be applied on occasions that must be for special topics, at certain times, in particular meetings, separate from day to day life.

Therefore, we assume that everyone should be included, unless we can explain why we are excluding someone from a specific topic.

We've put together 7 inclusion questions for Mencap to ask people about their experience:

  1. Did I have enough time and a 'good' place for me to take part?
  2. Did I get the information I needed, with enough time to think about it, and ask any questions?
  3. Did I feel I was able to keep up and understand what everyone was saying?
  4. Did I have enough breaks to help me to concentrate and give my views?
  5. Did I feel that people understood my views?
  6. Did I have a chance to say how I found the discussion?
  7. Did I get honest and helpful feedback so I can get better at being involved?

We want to use these questions in all parts of Mencap.

To begin we expect them to be used at inclusion groups, the board and committees, the Mencap Trust Comany, any steering groups, and in any teams that includes a person with a learning disability (whether they are in a paid, volunteer or internship role).

Papers by the Voices Council

Mental health for people with a learning disability and the Pandemic (PDF) - A paper written by the Voices Council about mental health service provision for people with a learning disability during the Pandemic 

Other activities

  • Held a #LDWeek18 Mencap twitter take over
  • Gave a presentation at the 2018 Inclusion International World Congress.
  • Our annual report will include a message from the Voices Council.
  • Some of the Voices Council have also been appointed as paid members of Mencap’s ‘Treat Me Well’ campaign and Inclusive Research steering groups.

Get in touch

If you have a question for us, or would like to share your views of what you think the Voices Council should be doing, please contact us.

Email Inclusion@mencap.org.uk.

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