Carer for Mencap
In the picture shared on the Mencap Facebook page the woman stands near a wheelchair user whilst smokingCharlotte Shaw / Facebook

A support worker employed by learning disability charity Mencap has been suspended after a picture of her smoking after dumping her shopping on a wheelchair user went viral. A shocked bystander posted the picture to Mencap's Facebook page on 10 March.

The photograph, that was said to have been taken in Leicester, shows a woman in a black jumper and jeans smoking whilst five shopping bags are draped over a man in a wheelchair. The bags are piled up in such a way to conceal the man's face from view.

Within minutes of a concerned citizen posting the image to the Facebook account it had been viewed hundreds of times, and currently it has been shared on 29,395 occasions. Mencap responded to her post by saying that they were "appalled" at the image.

They added that a woman had been suspended and the issue reported to the local authority's safeguarding team. The charity added the wheelchair user had a learning disability.

Charlotte Shaw said in her post to Mencap: "One of your staff in the Leicestershire area smoking whilst on the phone in Leicester shoving all of her shopping bags on top of him with no care in the world. I don't think she should be able to work with vulnerable people who need care."

Mencap were quick to respond to Shaw's concerns saying that they were "appalled" by the photo. Replying on Facebook, Mencap said: "We are appalled by what is happening in the picture.

"After seeing it we immediately took action, and have suspended the support worker in question and reported the issue to the relevant local authority safeguarding team. We take the wellbeing of the people we support extremely seriously, and we expect and train our staff to deliver high quality care and support services.

"What we see here would fall well below that standard. Our priority now, as always, is ensuring that we offer the highest quality of care to our beneficiaries so they live the lives they choose."

National charity Mencap say that they work with people who have learning disabilities to change laws, challenge prejudice and support them to live their lives as they choose. According to Mencap 58,000 people with learning disabilities are supported by day care services.

Steve Baker, Regional Director of Services at the charity, said to the Mirror: "We are appalled by what is happening in the picture. After seeing it we immediately took action, and have suspended the support worker in question and reported the issue to the relevant local authority safeguarding team.

"We take the wellbeing of the people we support extremely seriously, and we expect and train our staff to deliver high quality care and support services."