A few of your questions, answered!

Hi everyone!

Thank you so much for being part of the first Learning Disability Pride event in Northern Ireland! We’ve had a few questions, so we thought we’d group them all here, and add to it as they get asked – whether this is during or after the big event!

If you have a question please do get in touch via social media or email us at learningdisabilitypride@gmail.com.

We thought we’d start with the basics:

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which results in difficulty with everyday activities, such as handling money or socialising. It affects someone for their whole life. Someone with a learning disability may need extra time to learn new tasks, and may require support to aid their understanding of new or complex information. The level of support someone requires depends on many factors, including the severity of their learning disability, and the types of activities they are completing.

Mencap have developed a fantastic tool as part of their Here I Am campaign which can help develop your understanding of learning disability – find it here.

Is a learning disability a mental health illness?

Absolutely not! As stated above, a learning disability will affect someone for their whole life. Learning disability occurs when the brain is still developing, and this may be before, during or soon after birth. For example, before birth a baby may develop certain genes, or something may happen to the mother while she is pregnant that causes learning disability, such as an accident or illness. Another cause of learning disability may be due to lack of oxygen during childbirth. There are many causes, and many types of learning disability, but a learning disability is not an illness, and as such, there is no ‘cure’. Many people with a learning disability can lead independent lives with the right types of support in place – exactly the type of thing we are coming together to celebrate as part of Learning Disability Pride.

A mental health illness, however, may affect someone at any stage of their life, and may be treatable with therapeutic intervention or medication. It is of course possible that someone with a learning disability may also suffer from mental health illness during their life, but they are certainly not one in the same thing. A person with a learning disability may have any possible other type of mental, physical or sensory impairment or disability too.

You can find out more about Mental Health from many local organisations, including our friends at Action Mental Health. 

What can I do to help or support people with learning disabilities?

People with learning disabilities have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. You can help by treating someone with a learning disability in the same way you would treat someone without a learning disability, for example, by speaking directly to the person rather than someone who is with them, or by giving them a fair opportunity for employment, or even just showing some patience if they become flustered when in a shop or restaurant.

There are also many opportunities to volunteer to support people with a learning disability in a direct or non-direct way, for example, fundraising for an organisation who offer services for people with learning disabilities, befriending or volunteering at a local social or support group. Find out more by searching for opportunities at the Volunteer Now website, or by contacting an organisation directly.

How can I find out more?

Please do get in touch!

There are many organisations on a local and national level who provide services and support for people with learning disabilities and their families. We’ve listed the websites of the organisations who have been part of the Steerings Group for Learning Disability Pride below, and each organisation is happy to hear from anyone who has any enquiries about learning disabilities or how to get involved.

We’re always more than happy to help develop understanding about learning disability so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or comments to make about learning disability and more specifically, Learning Disability Pride!  🙂

What a fantastic line up!

From our last two posts, you should be well and truly versed in what to expect from the carnival parade and activities, so now it’s time to share our on-stage entertainment line up!

We’re thrilled that our host for the day is DJ Pete Snodden, who is always sure to warm up a crowd and get everyone excited for the rest of the festivities in store! He’ll play an important role making sure you know who’s who, whether it’s groups arriving from the parade or those speaking or performing on the stage.

We’ll hear briefly from a few special speakers –

  • Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE
  • Director of Mencap in Northern Ireland, Margaret Kelly
  • Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Leader, Thomas Haighton

All of these lovely folk will be sure to make you feel very welcome, and help you understand what is so important about Learning Disability Pride and why it is happening!


Some of the members at Carrickfergus Senior Gateway have spent lots of their time at the club preparing a new and exclusive drama sketch to share at Learning Disability Pride. It has been developed to highlight the importance of including people with learning disabilities in friendships and the community. We can’t wait for our sneak preview next week at the final rehearsals!

Two fantastic local groups, The Jordan Academy Irish Dancers and Studio 86 Cheerleaders will be taking to the stage in the afternoon to provide performances that are sure to delight and inspire all who are attending. With upbeat music, bright colours and plenty of beautiful smiles, you can’t help but tap your feet to the beat and get into the groove!

Whether it’s rock or pop you love, you’ll be sure to be singing along to the tunes played by the brilliant, live, 5-piece band…This Way UP! We’ve heard them perform at many events and functions so we know you’re in for a treat – a real crowd pleaser who we’re delighted to have performing for us at Learning Disability Pride!

Last, but certainly not least, is the delightful DJ Joe Hoey, a local Carrickfergus man with a learning disability who recently hit the headlines of the Belfast Telegraph when promoting our wonderful event! Just incase anyone isn’t already dancing and singing the afternoon away, Joe will be sure to get you up on your feet as he plays a variety of classic hits ranging from country to dance music, all very much in the spirit of celebration!


By now I am sure you will all agree that Learning Disability Pride is a day not to be missed! With just 8 days to go, the final countdown has well and truly started!

Don’t forget to check back next week when we’ll give you some more practical information on getting to the event, road closures, parking information and everything else to make sure you can kick back, relax, and enjoy this amazing day celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion!

Family Fun Activities and Market Stalls for All!

Hello everyone!

Hopefully yesterday’s post helped manage your expectations for either taking part in or spectating the Carnival Parade at Learning Disability Pride!

Today we wanted to let you know about some of the activities and stalls that will be available in the Castle Car Park once the parade has finished up, and will run from 1pm – 4pm.

There will be live entertainment on stage throughout the afternoon – and we’ll share more about this tomorrow – but there is plenty to see and do in between acts!

As promised, we’ll confirm information about parking and road closures at the start of next week. In the meantime, you’ll be pleased to know it’s free entry and many of the activities will be provided free of charge, however, some activities will require payment to take part and you might like to bring some extra money to buy food/drink or something from the market stalls. Also good to know – there will of course be toilet facilities onsite!


Here’s some of the highlights –

Although the main focus of Learning Disability Pride is to celebrate the achievements and contribution to society of those with a learning disability, it’s also really important that we can share information about opportunities that are available to develop skills, access training and employment, get out and about in the community, make new friends, and more! Whether you have a learning disability, or are the parent/carer of someone who has a learning disability, you will be able to find out lots of information on and obtain resources from different services available in Northern Ireland.
Be sure to stop by our Information and Resources Marquee to have a chat with representatives from social groups, sporting/leisure activities, and various organisations who provide direct support to people with learning disabilities of all ages and their families. You never know what you could be missing out on!

We’re delighted to have heard from lots of vendors who will be coming to Learning Disability Pride to sell a variety of crafts, gifts, sweet treats and much more!  Lots of our market stalls are representing local social enterprises which means that many of the products available on the day will be handmade by people with a learning disability – what an amazing way for these service users to showcase their achievements! Please do stop by and browse the market stalls as you will be sure to find lots of lovely things. Why not treat someone…or yourself!

There’s going to be so much happening in the car park that we’re sure there will be something for everyone, and then some! We’re expecting some very special guests who can’t wait to meet you, including Summer the Therapy Horse and Superheroes from Loc-Down Events. There will also be more animals, a bouncy castle, face painters, balloons, and to make sure you remember what a great day you had at Learning Disability Pride, an interactive selfie mirror with photo prints for you to take home!  You can also try out some new activities, such as designing your own kite and taster sessions of a fun and easy way to improve your fitness and dance moves with Clubbercise Caroline – everyone is welcome!!

We’re pleased to have lots of food and snack trucks coming along on the day, ranging from sweet treats such as crepes and donuts to family favourites like burgers and chips! There are also lots of great restaurants in the area to head over to afterwards if you’re too busy enjoying yourself to stop for a bite!


Don’t forget, this is just a preview – there will be much more to see and do at Learning Disability Pride, but you’ll have to come along to find out what!!!
We hope reading this has helped you get just as excited as we are!! Check back again tomorrow to find out more about our on-stage entertainment – we’ll be giving the Royal Variety Performance a run for their money!!

Get ready for the Carnival Parade!

With just 10 days to go until Learning Disability Pride, we’re delighted with the amount of people who have already let us know they will be joining the Carnival Parade in Carrickfergus to kick off Learning Disability Pride in style!

It’s still not too late to register your interest by emailing learningdisabilitypride@gmail.com for all the information you need about taking part.

We thought we’d share with you some top tips and pointers so you know what to expect and to help you get excited for the day, starting with, of course – the parade!

Parade Participants

  1. Everyone is welcome! There are a lot of people taking part who have a learning disability, but also many who don’t, but want to show their support and appreciation by joining the parade in celebration of learning disability. We’re expecting a mixture of individuals, families, organisations and social clubs to take part on the day.
  2. The parade is starting at the football grounds near the health centre, leaving at 12pm, and will travel from there along Marine Highway to finish at the car park next to Carrickfergus Castle. We have included a photo of the route map at the bottom of this post! Our team will be in touch with details of where and when to meet to help get everyone organised for setting off. It’s not a very long walk, but we have some options available if you are unable to walk it but still want to take part – please let us know as soon as possible.
  3. Express yourself! You can wear whatever you want – maybe your club has it’s own colours, or you want to dress to impress with outfits and costumes – anything goes! – but be sure to wear something you feel comfortable in and shoes that are safe to walk in. Please feel welcome to bring a banner or flag that shows us who you are and what you’re proud of. They can be as easy or difficult to make as you wish, and can certainly be done on a small budget –  the most important thing is that it gives you the chance to really shout about what you’re proud of! Here’s some great ideas from other groups
  4. Safety comes first! Please make sure you have contact details for whoever is leading your group,  just incase you get separated on the day. If you have a mobile phone, make sure it is charged and has credit but also be sure to keep it safe like in a zipped pocket or bag. We will have a team of staff and volunteers on the day who can help you find someone if you do get separated, but having contact details handy will make this much easier. If you’re unsure about anything on the day, please speak to someone in a high visibility waistcoat!
  5. Have fun! This is an amazing opportunity to really let your hair down and enjoy yourself. We’ll be joined by some special people in the parade, such as May McFettridge, Superheroes from Loc-Down events, music, dancers and floats, but the real stars of the parade will be YOU! Remember to smile, wave and cheer as you make your way along the route, as there will be plenty of people out to watch the parade make its way to the Castle car park.
  6. Enjoy the rest of the day! There will be plenty to see and do in the car park between 1pm and 4pm – we’ll let you know the highlights in our next post, coming soon!

Parade Spectators

For anyone who is not taking part in the parade but would like to spectate, here’s a few things to keep in mind –

  • There will be road closures in Carrickfergus on the morning/early afternoon of Saturday 27th May. We will update our Facebook and Twitter pages when we have details of this, but please do get down early!
  • Use public transport if possible- there are train stops at both Downshire and Carrickfergus Town Centre which are both handy to the parade route, and will help you avoid delays caused by road closures.
  • For the best views, we recommend you stand along Marine Highway, between Taylors Avenue and the Castle.
  • Please encourage people taking part in the parade by smiling, waving and cheering them along their way!
  • Stay and join in the fun – there’s plenty of family friendly activities happening between 1pm and 4pm, and we’d love to see you there, so after watching the parade be sure to make your way along to the car park, you’ll be made very welcome.

We’re sure that’s lots of information to take in, but please feel free to send us an email (learningdisabilitypride@gmail.com) or message on Facebook/Twitter if you need more information, or would like to share with us a photo of your banner/flag/costume preparations for Learning Disability Pride!!

Check out the route –

19 days to go!

Hi guys!

It’s now only 19 days until Learning Disability Pride on Saturday 27th May 2017!

We just wanted to give you a quick update – we have been busy confirming arrangements for our market and information stall holders, parade participants and entertainment/workshops on the day! There is limited availability left for stalls – please email learningdisabilitypride@gmail.com if you have a last minute booking and we will try to fit you in.

We’ve also caught up with some groups who have been designing flags and banners to display during the carnival parade – including our very own Carrickfergus Gateway Club members, and the Mencap Down/Lisburn Employment and Personal Development Service trainees! There truly is plenty to be proud of and we love seeing how you plan to #flytheflagforlearningdisability – check them out on our Twitter feed https://twitter.com/LD_Pride2017.
We found design your own flag kits in Home Bargains in the festival/party section for less than £5 which is a great idea for your own group if you haven’t had time to create your own yet.

Carrickfergus Gateway Club also sent out reminder letters to families and carers last week to confirm numbers joining in the carnival parade – if you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to do it! And please do let us know how many people you plan to bring to join the parade by emailing learningdisabilitypride@gmail.com.

We’re also very excited that our posters and other materials will be arriving from the printers very soon! In the meantime, check out our flyer below that you can share on social media to let your friends and family know what a great day Learning Disability Pride is going to be  and encourage them to join our event page at the following link –  https://www.facebook.com/events/370891019975504/!

We simply cannot wait!

Just over 3 weeks until LDP!

Hello Everyone!

It’s just over 3 weeks until Learning Disability Pride (Saturday 27th May 2017) and we are very excited, and hope you are too! We wanted to give you a quick update and will be sure to keep you posted here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, as the big day approaches.

Carrickfergus Senior Gateway members visited Carrickfergus Castle last week to see it looking beautifully coloured with special purple lights for a Learning Disability Pride Pre-Launch Night. They got a great photo outside the Castle with our new banners which are now on display along the railings at the Castle Car Park to let everyone know about this fantastic event! Missed it? Don’t worry – the Castle will be lit up purple again soon and we’ll let you know the details when we have them so you can pop down and get a photo of your own to share with us and your friends!

The steerings group who are organising Learning Disability Pride have been very busy bringing plans together for the day, and have had lots of meetings and important conversations with people within the council and organisations that support people with learning disabilities to make sure the day goes smoothly. We’ve also confirmed some more entertainment, market stalls and activities to really be sure there will be something for everyone to enjoy!

There is still time to let us know if you would like to join in the carnival parade from 12pm along Marine Highway,  just send us an email to learningdisabilitypride@gmail.com as soon as possible. We’re pleased to say the one and only May McFettridge will be leading the parade which will of course guarantee the crowd have plenty to smile, laugh and cheer about! If you don’t feel like joining the parade, that’s ok – you are also very welcome to be part of the crowd to clap and cheer us along our way. From 1pm, there will be plenty of entertainment and activities in the Castle Car Park to hear, watch and take part in and you’ll be pleased to know it’s free entry!

Don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter to let us know you’re coming – we can’t wait to see you there!

Christine Mulvenna (Mencap NI Community Support Officer), Elizabeth, Stephen & Kerry (Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Members), Thomas Haighton (Carrickfergus Senior Gateway Leader) Photo Credit – McCracken Photography