Mencap has set up a legal panel of experts from five corporate law firms in the UK to help tackle the significant and complex issues that people with a learning disability and their families face.
The charity said the work of its Rights Here, Rights Now panel would include appealing benefit decisions, securing Special Education Needs (SEN) support for a child, dealing with a deprivation of liberty dispute or misuse of the Mental Capacity Act, and seeking redress for historical abuse.
“Whilst Mencap are proud of the impact that they make to individual lives on a day-to-day basis, the demand for legal support and advice has become an area that needs to be tackled,” it said.
“The widespread cuts to legal aid and the closures of charitable legal services has had a significant impact on the number of people with a learning disability and their families accessing quality legal advice and support.”
The charity added that it saw the key role of the panel being one of triage, whereby panel members will review an individual’s situation and outline what possible legal tools are available to them. It will then be Mencap’s role to present the guidance to the individual and where necessary support them in seeking legal representation.
Jan Tregelles, CEO of Mencap, said: “Rights Here, Rights Now is a significant milestone in Mencap’s history. We are committed to providing the best possible support to everyone in the UK with a learning disability, as well as their families, and now we are in a position of being able to offer top quality legal advice and support to some of the families who need it most.
“We are enormously grateful to those firms who have already committed to our new legal panel and urge other companies to volunteer their services and truly make a difference to those with a learning disability who may find themselves in difficult and distressing legal circumstances, through no fault of their own.”
The charity added it would encourage other legal firms to join the Rights Here, Rights Now panel.