Radio show changing perceptions of learning disability

SHOW TIME – Mark O’Reilly and James Fieldus are celebrating a year on air for It’s That Friday Feeling, presented and produced by people with learning disabilities

A COMMUNITY radio show presented and produced by people with learning disabilities has marked its first year on air.

It’s That Friday Feeling is presented by Mark O’Reilly and James Fieldus, with Mark’s partner Mary Pepper doing the jingles and their friend Simon Evans presenting a weekly weather forecast.

It ran every week between 3pm and 4pm on Radio Woking for a year and recently switched to Surrey Hills Radio.

Mark said: “I thought it important to have people with learning disabilities on the radio rather than just talking about it, although I try to look at things from a disabilities point of view.

“It’s a feel-good show getting into the weekend with music and quizzes.”

James added: “We have lots of contributions from friends who are learning disabled. It all adds to the fun and colour of the show.”

It’s That Friday Feeling is a spin-off of a lockdown project called the Supported Living radio show, started by Radio Woking and Surrey Hills Radio presenter Jon Andrews when he was a Mencap support worker.

Presenter James Fieldus on the mic

“This was at the start of lockdown in 2020 when people I was supporting found their activities had stopped, increasing their sense of isolation,” Jon said.

“I produced the shows with Mark and others in the slots that the students at Winston Churchill School, from where the station broadcasts, had been doing before lockdown.

“Mark wanted to carry on so got his friend James involved. They have changed perceptions and show learning disabilities in a positive light.”

James said: “The show has quickly become a major part of my life. I love the banter between me and Mark and I have learnt new skills and really enjoy doing it.
“Often people see the disability before they see the person. Everyone should have a chance to have a go to see what they can do.”

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