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Speak Out Council

Cambridgeshire

A voice for people in Cambridgeshire who are autistic or who have a learning disability.

What does Speak Out Council do?

  • acts as a voice for people aged 14 or above who have a learning disability or who are autistic
  • runs consultations and drop ins to give people a say on all sorts of issues, and influence decisions
  • talks to professionals and organisations who can make a difference to these issues
  • runs Speak Out Days to give people who live in, or use services in Cambridgeshire, an opportunity to come together with these professionals and organisations

We are for anyone in Cambridgeshire who is aged 14 or above, and who is autistic, or has a learning disability, or both. 

We work closely with the Learning Disability Partnership Board for Cambridgeshire, to make sure what is important to you is at the heart of their work.

We talk to people from the Cambridge County Council, the local Clinical Commissioning Group, sporting organisations, and service providers, including transport and highways.

How do I get involved?

Attend a Speak Out Day

Join the Speak Out Council leaders, other people with a learning disability or autistic people, their carers and family, professionals, referrers and providers to see what we have been doing and how you can get involved and have your say.

As we still can’t meet in person, our Speak Out Days take place on Microsoft Teams. You do not need to have any special apps or equipment to join us. You just need to let us have an email address so that we can send you an invite (you do not need any special software or to download any apps). We can also send easy-read joining instructions. If you want to join us but do not have internet access, we can make arrangements for joining by phone. Or we can arrange to send you our report by post if you’d prefer.

Our next Speak Out Day will be 24 September 2021

We will be talking about all the work we have been doing to help shape Cambridgeshire County Council’s new learning disability vision. To find out about future meetings, email speakoutcouncil@voiceability.org or call us on 07867 002124.

Join a virtual drop in - or contact us anytime

Due to the current coronavirus situation, we are not holding many face to face drop ins, but you can still Speak Out. 

On our drop in days you can join us on Microsoft Teams. We will be live on Facebook and Twitter, checking our email, and also available at the end of the phone on 0786 700 2124. 

Speak Up Spectrum (for people on the autistic spectrum) - 3rd Wednesday of every month

High Support Needs drop in - 4th Wed of every month

But if you can’t make one of our dates, we are all still working for you, so just get in touch any time if you’d like us to help raise any issues you are experiencing in your life at the moment. By talking to professionals and organisations we can help make a difference.

Our consultations

The Speak Out Council carries out four consultations each year. Each one focusses on a subject that people with a learning disability and/​or autistic people have told us is important in their lives.

Take part in our My life my future” consultation

We wanted to know what is important to you now and what you would like to do, or change in the future (next year and in five year’s time). We also wanted to know about the support and information you feel you would need to do this. We wanted to know about things like: jobs, volunteering, training, day and evening activities, and where you’d like to live. 

This consultation is now closed, and the results can be found below. 

Our 2020 Reports

Safe Places scheme

The Speak Out Council in partnership with Cambridgeshire Constabulary runs the Safe Places scheme across Cambridgeshire, where local businesses and shops offer temporary refuge to vulnerable people in need. The national website is https://www.safeplaces.org.uk/ or free App directs you to the nearest open Safe Place.

Businesses also display stickers in their windows to show they are part of the scheme and a safe place for anyone feeling threatened or anxious.

A person needing help shows their stay safe card to a member of staff who will help them call the emergency contact on the card – or the local police or safeguarding service. The card tells people exactly what to do to help the person. This includes their name, the contact details of the person they need to get in touch with, and what to do if you cannot get hold of them.

The Speak Out Council is always looking for volunteers to help find good businesses and shops to become part of the scheme, and to keep in touch to make sure the scheme is working well. We’d also love to hear from organisations who’d like to become a safe place. 

The website has lots of really good free resources about keeping safe, hate crime and mate crime. Anyone in Cambridgeshire can use this by registering for a free account.

What should a good social care assessment look like?

The Speak Out Council worked with Cambridgeshire County Council to produce this video which explains what you should expect from a good social care assessment - and the telltale signs of a bad assessment!

Speak Out Leader stories

He takes huge pride in his work. One of his favourite sayings is, We’ve done that job”.

Russell’s support worker
Russell’s Story

Russell likes to talk with people. It’s his favourite thing. He also likes meeting people, knowing what is happening next and having something to do. Working on VoiceAbility’s Speak Out Council (SOC) is perfect for him.

Russell is 35 and has profound and multiple learning disabilities. He also has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and is a big Saracens fan.

He has been working with VoiceAbility in a variety of roles for eight years now, and is extremely successful at challenging the assumptions of what people with high support needs are capable of and want to achieve.

As part of the SOC, Russell worked to improve a traffic crossing in Hitchin. He made a video and wrote a letter which he shared with a local councillor who visited him personally. The improvements Russell helped make benefitted both Russell and his community immensely.

Next Russell led a project to test local public houses for accessibility, both in terms of physical accessibility and the way in which they could provide an atmosphere where people with high support needs could feel comfortable.

He has led access walks, which has helped to highlight problems with footpaths across the county and has resulted in the County Council making several improvements to broken paving slabs and curbs.

He has even chaired a meeting of the Learning Disability Partnership Board.

James Sheard, who acted as Russell’s support worker for many years before coming to work for VoiceAbility, said: 

I have seen a marked difference in Russell in the years since he started working with VoiceAbility. He has improved concentration and comprehension of his job role. He has increased confidence and takes huge pride in his work. One of his favourite sayings is, We’ve done that job”. What helps him is the structure of the job and the fact that we plan things out months in advance.”