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Fahmina’s story: my journey to become a self-advocate

21 June 2023

Fahmina was looking for advocacy support, but learned she could become a self-advocate herself.

Here Fahmina tells her self-advocacy story, which started with a conversation with a VoiceAbility team leader in December 2022 and now sees her chairing working groups for the Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership.

More about me

I’m Fahmina, I live in Hampshire and have a learning disability. I like going to Mencap and the Friday Network with Speakeasy Advocacy, and when I’m at home I like watching TV and playing board games. A few weeks ago I went to Weymouth with my partner and found it very beautiful.

My story

I contacted social services after first moving to Hampshire because I was in search of an advocate. After social services said that I wasn’t entitled to an advocate, they referred me to VoiceAbility because I was interested in advocacy.

I met for a coffee with a team leader in Basingstoke. She was friendly and easy to talk to. 

She explained about the Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership and all the working groups, and that most of the meetings are on Microsoft Teams but occasionally they meet face to face.

I was interested, but couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. The team leader also mentioned that I would get expenses paid to me for getting involved. 

That felt like I was being rewarded and it made me feel like I would be getting a job which I have never had – in the past I had only done volunteering.

Going to my first meeting

It took me a while to decide what to do. It was suggested that I go to a meeting and see what it was like, so I picked the adult social care working group as my first meeting because I was interested in that subject and thought that maybe I could help. 

I enjoyed the meeting. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and, because all the self-advocates had learning disabilities, it was all easy to understand.

Making a difference

I decided that I would attend two working groups – the adult social care working group and the health and wellbeing working group.

I am finding out lots of good information that is really helpful to me, but also giving back my ideas to the working groups.

I find this very important, because I know that I am speaking on behalf of people that also have learning disabilities and that have no voice in Hampshire. 

We know how we would like to be supported and to make things better, like all the information that we have provided to the website that we have been designing.

Growing in confidence

Since becoming a self-advocate, I have grown in confidence and use my voice to help others. 

I have now chaired an adult social care working group meeting and attended a Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership meeting.

Fahmina (right) with fellow self-advocate Leon (left) launching the Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership website in Basingstoke with Trish Moody (centre), VoiceAbility’s Connections facilitator for Hampshire

I also attended an awareness day in Basingstoke which was very exciting because it was the launch of the Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership website –

Next, we are putting together a survey with questions that has come from each of the working groups.

When it’s finished, I want to go into the community and talk to people about it and get people to answer the questions on the survey – then together we can tell Hampshire what our needs are and how we want to make change.

This is what we as a group of self-advocates want to achieve.

Find out more