People with learning disabilities bullied at music venues – BBC News

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Image caption In a survey of people with learning disabilities, Mencap found that 12.5% of respondents had previously been refused entry to a music gig, festival or concert

Many people with learning disabilities who go to music gigs have been bullied, a charity has said.

Mencap says that 29.2% of people who responded to a survey had suffered abuse from members of the public.

The charity is calling for music venues and fans to tackle bullying and ensure people with learning disabilities are made to feel welcome.

The founder of a small music venue association has called the findings of the research “worrying”.

‘It’s quite outrageous’

The survey questioned 300 people with learning disabilities between the ages of 18 and 35.

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It also found that 12.5% of people had been refused entry owing to their disability, and nearly half of respondents felt worried about asking music venue staff for help.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright Mencap

Image caption Kelsey Ramsey said that she had been called the “R-word” when volunteering at a major music festival

One of the people surveyed, 24-year-old Kelsey Ramsey, said she was abused by a man when she was volunteering at a major music festival.

The Romford resident said: “I’ve been called the ‘R-word’ before, and I know that people make comments about me and how I look.

“It makes it hard to carry on doing the things I love.

“I want to be able to go out and do the same things as other people my age but most of the time it feels impossible.”

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The head of campaigns at Mencap, Rossanna Trudgian, said: “The reality is if you are young and have a learning disability you’re likely to be blocked out of something as universal as music due to fear of staff or public attitudes.”

The charity has asked for more people to join its Sidekick scheme, where members of the public volunteer to spend time with people with learning disabilities at events like music concerts.

Mark Davyd, founder of the Music Venue Trust which works with small and medium-sized sites, said: “It’s very worrying if they’ve come back with 29%, it’s quite outrageous.

“It’s less of a problem [in small venues] than in bigger venues… small independents are community-driven.”

Mr Davyd, who also runs a music charity that works with young people living with disabilities, said: “I’m acutely aware of the kind of steps you need to take in this area.

“It’s something we’d be very keen on exploring with Mencap.”

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