We last put news on this page on September 8, 2016

Join the London Network of Parents with Learning Disabilities!

Woman filling in a form

London Network News

Woman waving hello

Hello Network Members.

Read all about the lastest London news below.

Anna - Daughter of Fortune

Woman waving hello

Exploring Learning Disability and Parenthood

Monday 12 September 2016. 12pm - 3pm

Lift, Islington in the Blue Hall - 45 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PW

In collaboration with The Elfrida Society, Mind the Gap presents:

Anna - an interactive Forum Theatre piece that explores a series of true-life scenarios that may be experienced by learning disabled people when they consider being, or become, a parent.

Anna will enable learning-disabled adults to explore their own understanding, thoughts and experiences around the subject of ‘becoming a parent’. 

Find out about 'Anna'


Picnic Basket

Parents had a picnic in the sunshine to celebrate the summer holidays.

Support Group

Group of six people

Islington parents are planning on starting up a new peer support in September.

Camden parents have been giving advice and will come to meetings to share tips.


Adrian in video

Parents from across the boroughs have been working hard making a film with Mencap, Norah Fry and The Elfrida Society.

We will be sharing with you the exciting footage!

Here is a sneak peak from one of the parents-

The password: elfrida

Please email Chantal Scurr if any problems.

Chantal is a film maker and photpgrapher. Her email is:

Our Group Your Group

Mr Thing drawing

Camden parents group Our Group Your Group are looking for any small pieces of funding that they can use to keep the group going and pay for room hire at their new venue.

They meet weekly and work with many different organisations around Camden providing training for professionals and the local authority for working with people with learning difficulties.

They fight for their rights and their children’s rights!

If you have any ideas or would like to make a donation please email OGYG at:

Every little helps!

The Hammersmith and Fulham team has moved

Park View building

The Learning Disabilities team in Hammersmith and Fulham has moved to Parkview.

The new address is:
Parkview Centre for Health and Wellbeing,
Cranston Court,
56 Bloemfontein Road,
London, W12 5FG

Phone number: 0208 383 6464

Leaflet about the move to Parkview

We will say goodbye to Stamford Brook Centre.

Buses that go to Parkview are 207, 228, 260, 283, 607, 228.

The nearest tube stations are White City on the Central Line and Wood Lane on the Hammersmith and City Line.

You can dowload this info (PDF, 142Kb).

New Projects

True Story booklet cover and link to booklet

There are a lot of projects up and running for Parents with learning difficulties in 2014. Some based locally, within London and nationwide. Parents and professionals working hard to make sure Parents voices are heard and needs are met.

The mothers in Hammersmith and Fulham (this link takes you to our section on resources in the borough) have put together a beautiful book of poetry called ‘The True Story of Mothers with learning disability – We Can Do it!’ you can find a link to it here (pdf, 1012kb).

They have also made a CD of the mothers singing their songs which we look forward to hearing soon!

Listen to info about this news!

Exciting news, the Network is growing!

Map of London

New boroughs are getting involved and thinking about setting up their very own peer support, meaning more support and connections across London for parents.

Funding is hard for everyone at the moment, but we are very happy that through parents and professionals working together we can keep services going and improving.

Meeting chairs

The Working Together With Parents Network has been hard at work, meeting with Parents in Camden and Greenwich and parents in Birmingham to get their views on parenting assessments. They asked what works well, what does not work and what can be made better. All the answers will be put together from across the country to be a voice for change to make assessments better for parents with learning difficulties.

Are you expecting a baby? Is there such a thing as a 'straight forward' or 'easy' pregnancy? Do you think you're having – or you're likely to have- an exceptionally interesting pregnancy?

Few mums-to-be would say that pregnancy is easy or stress-free, but for some women, having a baby presents very unusual challenges.

Listen to info about this news!

Our Group Your Group

Mr Thing image and link to blog

Camden parents Our Group Your Group have been hard at work keeping their blog new and interesting.

Beautiful pictures with important messages, and have recently celebrated Mr Thing’s birthday.

Have a look for yourself at:

Press release, 23 April 2014

Innovative project to support learning disabled mums-to-be launches in Islington and Northumberland

Woman with young child

Parents with a learning disability are up to 50 times more likely to have their children taken into care*

An innovative programme is being piloted over two-years in Islington (London) and Northumberland to support parents with a learning disability to access the tailored family and parental support they need when raising a child.

Parent Pioneers is funded by the Department of Health and led by learning disability charity Mencap, in partnership with sector specialists Mellow Parenting, The Elfrida Society and Bristol University’s Norah Fry Research Centre.

7% of adults with a learning disability become parents. Their children are more likely to be removed and taken in to care than any other children.

Lara Burnett is project managing Parent Pioneers for Mencap. She says:

“One of the main problems faced by a parent who has a learning disability is the presumption that they are not able to raise a child. Health, social service and early years professionals may have preconceived ideas about their ability to be a parent and this can too often lead to their child being taken in to care.

“What’s more, local accessible family and parenting services aren’t always available to adults with a learning disability and this lack of support is often a key factor when a court makes decisions about removing a child from a family.

“Parents with a learning disability can be good parents and can give their children a good start in life. Parent Pioneers wants to keep as many families together as possible by ensuring that additional support and access to tailored, timely family services is offered at the early stages of pregnancy and parenting so that any issues surrounding the newborn child can often be prevented from escalating.”

Parent Pioneers aims to increase learning disability awareness for frontline staff and up-skill professionals engaging with families where a parent has a learning disability. It does this through delivering training programmes for managers and commissioners from Health and Local Authorities and delivering workshops for health, social care and early years practitioners.

Parent Pioneers also works to support parents with a learning disability to grow in confidence and effectiveness in their parenting role. Two evidence-based programmes from Mellow Parenting have been adapted for the project and are being offered to parents with a learning disability from 20-30 weeks into their pregnancy:

Mellow Parenting leaflet cover and link to leaflet download
  • Mellow Bumps is a six-week programmes based within a group setting to help mothers to access support both in pregnancy and after the birth of their baby.
  • Mellow Babies is a 14-week programmes which provides mums and dads with the support they need to explore their own experiences, past and present, and to develop strong relationships with their new babies.

The families will also receive the support of a parent mentor who will give weekly practical support to ensure the learning from the programmes are applied in the family setting. They will also encourage parents to take up the services, support and advocacy that are offered in their local community. The mentor schemes are run by Parent House in Islington and Children North East in Northumberland.

Dr Christine Puckering, Programme Director from Mellow Parenting, said:

“Parents with learning difficulties can be afraid to ask for help for fear that their child will be removed. Services also are anxious about labeling people. As a result, families do not get the help they need until too late. This programme aims to break down barriers for parents and professionals to make sure that seamless services are in place from pregnancy to give the baby the best start in life.

"The mentors play a vital role in offering reliable, trusted support all the way through the programme. With them, parents with learning difficulties will get the support they need to try out new ways to interact with their children and practice new skills.”

A Reference Group of parents with learning disabilities who have had their own positive and negative experiences of being a parent support the project development, testing resources and supporting dissemination, with the support of the Elfrida Society, based in Islington.

The project will draw to a close in March 2015 when the Norah Fry Research Centre will publish their independent evaluation report. The findings from the project will then be disseminated to senior managers and commissioners across the UK to highlight a cost effective, preventative approach to a known and increasing issue.

For more information about Parent Pioneers, visit:

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Lisa Gilbert, PR Officer at Mencap, on 020 7696 6950 or

Notes to editors * Tarleton, Ward and Howarth (2006)

About Mencap

Mencap Logo

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email

About Mellow Parenting

Mellow Parenting deliver a family of programmes developed to support parents and their children in making good relationships.

About the Elfrida Society

The Elfrida Society is a local charity based in the London borough of Islington for adults with learning difficulties.

About Parent House

Parent House web page

The Parent House offers a range of learning and support for parents and carers from the local community of Islington.

About Children North East

Children North East is a children's charity based in the North East of England, who work to transform the lives of disadvantaged children so that they have a better chance in life.

Download this information

Cineflix Productions

Cineflix Logo

Cineflix Productions have been commissioned by Discovery to make 6 episodes on the subject of pregnancy.

We're looking for mums-to-be from all over the world, who are juggling the usual excitement and anxiety of a typical pregnancy, with an unusual situation or condition.

Pregnant woman

If you're pregnant in an extraordinary situation, for example if you are a mum to be with a learning disability, we’d love to hear from you. We want the series to challenge misconceptions, celebrate triumphs and capabilities as well as follow the day to day realities of each parent.

From sharing the news with your loved ones, to medical appointments and baby showers – right up to the big day itself - we want to explore the realities – the highs and lows, the excitement and the inevitable anxieties that being an extraordinary pregnant mum brings, and help you share your pregnancy story.

Woman on phone

If you'd be interested in an informal chat with a member of The Pregnancy Project production team, please email us on 
or call 0203 179 0099 – we'd love to talk to you.

(And of course – congratulations on your pregnancy!)

Listen to info about Cineflex!

Mellow Parenting

Mellow Parenting leaflet cover and link to leaflet download

Promoting Parent-Child Relationships

Attachment-based early intervention programmes with proven results, equipping practitioners with the necessary tools to help vulnerable families

‘We make a real difference to people’s lives. We’ve developed vital programmes that provide practitioners with tools to improve parent-child relationships in a safe, effective environment. Using principles of attachment, social learning theory and good practice in mental health, our programmes have a significant and sustained impact for parents and children…’

Mellow has a new Leaflet with all you need to know about the Mellow Parenting Programmes please find it here (pdf, 485kb).

Mellow Parenting home page of web site

The Mellow Reference Group is still meeting regularly, adapting the Mellow Parenting Programme.

If you are a parent with a learning difficulty and wish to take part you can join the waiting list by contacting Ali. F. Jabeen:

Phone: 0207 359 7443

Listen to info about Mellow Parenting!

Working Together with Parents Network

Professionals supporting parents with learning difficulties and their children

mother and child using a wheelchair
  • A UK-wide Network for professionals sharing positive practice
  • Working at policy level. We have had a national taskforce. We are now developing an expert stakeholder group. Through this group we will engage with key stakeholders from mainstream and family services to work towards a common vision and joint ways of working.

New Lease of life for the Working Together with Parents Network in England 2013

Working Together with Parents Network web page

Forty five professionals committed to improving the support available to parents with learning difficulties met in February 2013.

Participants on this networking day for the English WTPN network learnt about new initiatives such as the Parenting Toolkit developed by the London Network.

The professionals refined the network's plans for the next two years including the need to address key issues around assessing the support needs of parents with learning difficulties.

Good Practice Guidance Presentation

They also began to develop regional groups and provided developed strategy regarding reviewing the impact of the Good Practice Guidance on Working with Parents with Learning Disabilities and setting up an expert stakeholder group to engage with policy issues.

This day was funded by the Health Foundation’s Healthy Network’s programme and the on-going work of the network is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Find out more

Visit the WTPN web site at:

For more information about the WTPN in England, contact Beth Tarleton

There are separate networks for Scotland and Wales. . For more information contact:

  • For Scotland: Andy Miller, Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability,  0141 559 5720
  • For Wales: Jim Crowe, Learning Disability Wales, 07971 476872

Counselling Directory

Counselling Directory logo

Counselling Directory is a confidential service that encourages those in distress to seek help. The directory contains information on many different types of distress, as well as articles, news, and events.

We are now a leading support network in the UK

Counselling session with two people

‘Counselling Directory is a confidential service that encourages those in distress to seek help. The directory contains information on many different types of distress, as well as articles, news, and events.

We are now a leading support network in the UK

New Children and Families Bill

Law scroll

Family Rights Group release summary of New Children and Families Bill

This new bill could see children put up for adoption even though they were placed voluntarily in foster care by parents…

Find out more at this summary. It is a PDF document.

Brent Parents Group

Pizza faces

The Brent Parents Group has just finished their Parents and Children Together Easter holiday activities!

There was music making, singing and dancing!

From nursery rhymes to musical chairs!

And a day of making funny pizza faces.

Great for the parents and children to get creative and yummy to eat too!

Man painting a picture

There are a lot more activities coming up before summer for the parents including Yoga, films and making art and lots lots lots more!

If you or someone you know in the borough of Brent want to meet other parents, share your thoughts and have some fun, then come along to the Parents Group

Wednesdays at Brent Mencap 11am-1pm

Check out Brent on the Support Map for more details…

Mellow Parents Reference Group

Mellow Parenting home page of web site

Parents with learning difficulties from across London have come together to make Mellow Parenting Programmes helpful for parents with learning difficulties and disabilities.

What Mellow say:

Father holding baby

Mellow Parenting is a family of programmes developed to support parents and their children in making good relationships. The foundation of all the programmes is attachment theory with particular emphasis on the transmission of attachment and relationship styles across generations. So, if you have had poor relationships with carers in your early childhood, evidence shows that it is harder to make good relationships now, with services, partners and of course your children.


Pregnant woman

The parents will mostly be looking at 2 Mellow programmes, Mellow bumps for pregnant mothers and Mellow babies.

They will be working with Mellow staff, National Mencap and The Norah Fry Research Centre in Bristol.

Mellow Bumps

Research evidence has shown that stress in pregnancy has an adverse long term effect of the wellbeing of the child. Mellow Bumps is a six week programme based within a group setting to help mothers chill out and relax. The programme includes video material to introduce mums-to-be to baby brain development and the social capacities of babies from birth. The mums-to-be are also helped to identify their own needs and how to access support both in pregnancy and after the birth of their baby.

Mellow Babies

Mother holding young girl

Mellow Babies is a 14 week programme and provides Mums and Dads with the support they need to develop strong relationships with their new babies.

Topics covered include: what do babies do all day, what can babies do, bonding with baby, emotional and social development, sleep, playing, harmful parenting, safety in the home, etc.

They’ll be meeting 6 times a year and also feedback and ask for comments from the London Network of Parents with Learning Difficulties.

The contact for Mellow is Ali. F. Jabeen.

If you have any comments let us know!

Free Parents Booklet from Voice Ability - Get yours now!

Voiceability booklet cover

Written for, and by, parents who have learning disabilities, this booklet tells you what happens if Children's Services feel your child is at risk of harm.

The booklet explains this complex subject in easy to understand words and pictures and includes information on the Child Protection Process, what happens at different meetings and in court and the Adoption and Fostering processes.

What are people saying about our free Parents Booklet? One Family Court Advisor explains why she thinks that the booklet is vital.

Court building

“The booklet offers good well written advice for any parent whose child is involved in the Court process. As a professional we glibly discuss order and meetings as if everyone knows what they are. I believe this booklet informs parents of pre court and court procedures and how important they are."

You can download the parents booklet here (pdf, 4mb) 

Making films

Who we are

Man with video camera on tripod

We make documentary films. Documentary films are films about real people.

What we want to do

We want to make a film about a mother with learning difficulties and her family. We want to show that this family is a good and happy family.

This film will show what it is like to be a mother with learning difficulties. This means people will understand better.

People will want to watch this film because they don’t know what it is like to be a mother with learning difficulties.

Mother holding baby

We think that when people watch this film they will have more understanding and respect for mothers with learning difficulties.

We will make this film by working with the mother and her family and her advocate. We will only film the family when everyone is happy to have us there.

Find out more


Making a difference for parents with a learning disability

Sam English trainer in training room

Follow the link below to read this article:

This information is mainly for disabled parents and professionals.

2 new articles

Information sign

New resources

Information sign

Announcing much needed seminars

Meeting hall

"Can We Get Married?" - BBC2 Programme

Couple on beach

"Like many couples who have been together for six years and are in their late twenties, Emma Bishop and Ben Marshall are thinking of getting married. But for them, it is not entirely straightforward.

Emma and Ben both have Down's syndrome and are residents of a supported-living community in Devon, where they have an active social life and part-time jobs. They live in a small house with their friend Cy Clench, who also has Down's syndrome. If Emma and Ben were to get married, it could mean a completely different way of living."

Couple laughing and talking

Text from BBC Web site.

Parents losing children in 'loaded system'

Woman from video

"Against a background of prejudice and out-of-date assessments, six out of 10 parents with learning disabilities are having their children removed for adoption, research by Bristol University suggests."

Woman with learning difficulties not allowed to keep her baby

Mother holding her child

"A mother-to-be whose wedding was halted by social workers who said she was not intelligent enough to marry, has now been told her baby will be taken away."

Kerry Robertson, 17 has been told that she will not be allowed to bring up the baby due in January.

Stephen Moore, Executive Director, Social Work Service said:

Mother kneeling holding child

"Much of the work we do is governed by legislation. Complex decisions are made that balance risk and welfare while supporting people at times of personal or family need.

We cannot discuss details of individual cases for reasons of confidentiality but give assurance that we will always work with people for the best outcome for all involved."

Mother with daughter

Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive said:

"There are around a quarter of a million parents with a learning disability in the UK, all of whom should have the same opportunities as anyone else to be a parent and look after their own children.

Yet up to 60 per cent of parents who have a learning disability will at some stage have their children taken away, often because of preconceived ideas that parents with a learning disability are unable to cope.

With the right support people with a learning disability can be and are excellent parents, yet many fear that asking for help may be seen as an admission of failure which would result in their children being taken away.

Mencap wants support for parents with a learning disability to be more readily available, as well as learning disability training for local authorities so that decisions about parenting capacity are made on the individual case rather than prejudice."