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Big Issue unveils edition compiled by people with learning disabilities

Big Issue has published an edition created by and wholly featuring people with a learning disability (Andy Parsons/Big Issue)
Big Issue has published an edition created by and wholly featuring people with a learning disability (Andy Parsons/Big Issue)

The latest Big Issue has been put together entirely by people with learning disabilities in a move hailed as showing what can be achieved “despite many societal barriers”.

The magazine’s editor said they have broken new ground with their most recent edition, putting people with a learning disability “at the heart of every story”.

The collaboration between the publication and the charity Mencap is said to be the first time a magazine has been created by and wholly featured people with a learning disability.

A front cover of Big Issue magazine with four people with learning disabilities and the words Do You See Me
The latest edition of the Big Issue (Big Issue/PA)

Timed to coincide with Learning Disability Week, the issue features contributions from CBeebies’ presenter George Webster, who has Down’s syndrome and wrote a letter to his younger self, and Paralympian swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate, who has Asperger’s syndrome and shared her experience on the barriers of having a hidden disability.

Big Issue editor Paul McNamee said: “People speak frequently about hearing from those who are often marginalised in society.

“At the Big Issue, we believe in giving them a platform to tell their stories. Our collaboration with Mencap is yet another way we’re doing this – breaking new ground by putting this week’s Big Issue in the hands of people with a learning disability.

“It’s not about paying lip-service, but rather wholeheartedly allowing a platform and offering assistance if needed. These fantastic contributors have created an incredible edition of our magazine.”

Aisha Edwards, who has a learning disability and helped with the issue as a so-called Mencap Myth Buster, said she “really enjoyed” working on the magazine.

“It’s so important to have a magazine like this that showcases our work, recognises us and includes us from the get go,” she added.

Mencap’s chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “This powerful collaboration with the Big Issue puts people with a learning disability at the heart of every story.

“We are told that there is very little representation of people with a learning disability in the media, and we are trying to change that by working alongside one of the UK’s most recognised social enterprises to put their lives at the front and centre of every page.

“This publication of the Big Issue is a stark reminder of the incredible things that can be achieved despite many societal barriers.

“We hope this issue will inspire people to support our cause and learn more about the amazing people in their community and throughout the UK, who have a learning disability.”

The special edition Big Issue is on sale now.