History of East Kent Mencap

We are proud of how our services have developed to provide opportunities across East Kent for adults & children with learning disabilities. We continue to believe that all people should be given a voice, valued and treated equally.

East Kent Mencap Timeline

Connection with Royal Mencap Society

Judy Fryd established ‘The National Association of Parents of Backward Children’ (whose name was later changed to ‘The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children’ in 1955).

The famous ‘Brooklands Experiment’ of 1958 was published worldwide, launched by the society, highlighting vast improvements in social, emotional and verbal skills in children with learning disabilities who were educated away from hospitals and in conventional nursery settings.

Since 1969, the society has been commonly known by the abbreviation ‘Mencap’


The Isle of Thanet Society

Known as ‘The Isle of Thanet Society for Mentally Handicapped Children & Adults’, the organisation was started by the Broadstairs 3: Mrs Saunders, Mrs Fryer & Mrs Ansell (a local teacher).

These were parents of children with learning disabilities who were looking to create activities for their children to get involved in.

Other parents joined this group in time. Later, another group of parents established a branch in Margate including Dr & Mrs Sutcliffe (after whom William and Charlotte Houses were named in 1996).

The Margate group affiliated to Royal Mencap incorporated the Broadstairs group becoming the organisation we have today.


The Gateway Club

We begin running our Gateway Club for adults with a learning disability who want to meet up and socialise in their local community. It still runs every Monday!


Muriel House

Muriel House, a residential home, opened in Cliftonville.

We still to this day support two of the three original tenants that were there, one moving from residential to supported living and another individual still accesses our community support service.



Jason Gerlack joins EKM as a CEO.


'East Kent Mencap'

Thanet Mencap Society merged with Canterbury Mencap to form East Kent Mencap on July 26 2007.

Our Resource Centre moved from working in larger groups to smaller specialised groups that year, allowing individuals more choice and staff interaction with their activities.


Backler House

Backler House: 6 flats designed for independent living were built.


Fun Days!

EKM held a joint Fun Day in West Malling with other Mencap groups around Kent. We have been running an annual event ever since at community venues in Thanet, Canterbury and Swale.


Community Support

The Community Support Team was established to support individuals on a 1-1 or 2-1 basis across East Kent creating Person Centred Plans in order to determine the individuals specific needs and wishes.


Holiday Clubs

Our first Youth Holiday club supported 12 young people with learning disabilities to access the community for a week in the Summer.



Our Bowling Club began in the evenings, putting greater emphasis on the out-of-hour requirements for social activities for children with learning disabilities.

To date over 150 children have enjoyed the club.


Muriel House Closes

Encouraging its tenants to make the next step into supported living, giving them greater independence.

This was a huge step forward for members and staff alike!


50th AGM

East Kent Mencap celebrate its 50th Annual General Meeting


Community Development

East Kent Mencap establishes a Domiciliary service and purchases a bungalow in Sheerness where 4 of our members live independently.



EKM completes a brokerage pilot working with 117 individuals to design and put together personal budgets and support plans.


District Partnership Groups

EKM agree to facilitate 6 of the 12 District Partnership Groups in Kent: Thanet, Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Swale and Shepway.


Amorous Feelings

Thanet Resource Centre creates their first film: ‘Amorous Feelings of Beach’ which premieres at the Theatre Royal, Margate.


Arkley House

East Kent Mencap purchase a 5 bedroom independent living unit in Herne Bay.


The Swale Spiders

Men's Football Team, The Swale Spiders is established in Sittingbourne and begin to play in the Kent Disability League in September 2012.


Beacon Status

The Gateway Club receives 'Beacon status'


Christ Church University

EKM have developed an ongoing a relationship with Canterbury Christ Church University, in order to support nurses with training to support people with a learning disability.


On The Stage

Over 200 people come to our first Spring Variety Show in Broadstairs- The drama group's first stage show.



The Supporting People Enablement Team [SPET] is created, supporting 19 of our tenants. This is now known as the Getting On with Learning Disabilities (GOLD) Project.


Charity Of The Year

East Kent Mencap becomes Charity of the Year for the Sheerness Times Guardian, The Sittingbourne Messenger and for Sainsbury's Canterbury Store, raising awareness of the organisation.



Swale photography group hold their fist photography exhibition named: Walkabout.


Community Groups

The SPET team (now known as GOLD) set up a number of community groups: The Breakfast Club, The Women's Group, Members Action Group.


Canterbury Resource Centre

Our Canterbury Resource Centre opens in the heart of the city.


Sensory Garden

Funded by Grantscape, our Swale Resource Centre was able to create a sensory garden in Sheerness


Moving Into Colour

Part of the Summer of Colour Festival, working with Confidance and Turner Contemporary Margate - Thanet Resource groups worked on a Margate-inspired dance project available to watch on YouTube.



Heritage Lottery funded a joint project with University of Kent: 'Memories, Moments and Mannequins: the changing world of Learning Disability'


Westwood Cross

Westwood Cross, Broadstairs [Land Securities] began to support EKM, choosing Royal Mencap nationally a its charity of the year.


Hear My Voice

EKM held a hustings leading up to the May election. Supporting people with learning disabilities to understand the voting process, register and ask the local candidates the questions they wanted, a short film was created to raise awareness on the key issues that would impact their lives.


Foresters Hall

Our Ramsgate Resource Centre was opened by Mayor of Ramsgate; Pat Moore.


Award Winning

East Kent Mencap, its staff and members were honoured at The Kent Learning Disability Partnership Awards.


Changing Kent Communities

EKM launched their latest film: 'Changing Kent Communities' at The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury. The Lottery-funded project showcases stories for individuals, and communities that show what people with a learning disability can achieve.



Getting On with Learning Disabilities (GOLD) is a lottery funded project that was set up in response to recent welfare cuts.



A healthy living & fitness club was set up at our Ramsgate Resource Centre, working with instructors from Motiv8 Sports.



Our Children & Youth services develop rapidly, including Resource services, Transition services and 1-1 support


Trinity Road

We move into our new premises in Trinity Road, Sheppey, with more space for activities from IT to music and gardening.   


Palm Bay Accommodation

Tenants move into our newly purchased and refurbished bungalow in Palm Bay, offering accommodation for our older members

Our women's group yarn bombs the Head Office in Margate, creating a colourful celebration for International Womens Day. 


Owners of Foresters Hall

East Kent Mencap purchases Foresters Hall – a large, partly listed building in Ramsgate, which we previously rented from the council. 

We merge with Sheppey Mencap, taking over responsibility for their assets.   



COVID impacts all our face-to-face services, with all clubs having to close. EKM invests in a new IT system and develops a programme of virtual, online activities. Whilst some staff can work from home, our key workers continue to provide essential support. 


KARA video care

90+ members are supported to have a KARA video care phone installed at their home, giving them easy access to friends, family and staff. 

Whilst services cautiously welcome back members, our virtual programme continues to offer support.


Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee

Our groups celebrate HRH Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee with shows and exhibitions. Watch our celebration film here.

We welcome members from Ashford Mencap to our services.


75th Anniversary

2023 marked East Kent Mencap's 75th anniversary. The Mayor of Ramsgate, Pat Moore, planted a cherry tree in the Ramsgate Hub garden, funded by Ramsgate Town Council, and unveiled a commemorative plaque to celebrate this major milestone.