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Self-advocate Fahmina proud’ after speaking at learning disability event

21 June 2024

A self-advocate who was invited to speak at a learning disability event last night (Thursday) said she was proud” of what she’d done after speaking in front of an audience for the first time. 

Fahmina Hoque spoke at Learning Disability Network London’s Spotlight On event, held in Learning Disability Week and all about what success can look like for people with learning disabilities.

Fahmina wearing a vertically stripped beige shirt, with a black cropped sleeves top over the top of the shirt, black trousers and black ballerina pumps with black hair tied back, holding a microphone and sitting with Gary who is wearing a white shirt, black jacket and black trousers with short brown hair and Saba who is wearing a brown and white small random print, long black skirt and white heels with a black bob haircut, all sat in chairs and around a circular table with a dark blue cloth over the top and glasses of water on top. In the background is artwork and a projector with the blue and white LDN London logo.

Fahmina Hoque (left) from Hampshire speaking to Learning Disability England co-founder Gary Bourlet and journalist Saba Salman during the Learning Disability Network London event.

The 25-year-old’s self-advocacy story started last year, after moving to Hampshire to be with her now husband Mehdi and asking social services for an advocate to support her to be heard.

Fahmina was told she not entitled to one, but was referred to voice and rights charity VoiceAbility – which provides independent advocacy services across the county.

After a conversation with a VoiceAbility team leader, Fahmina learnt she could advocate for herself and became part of Speak Out Hampshire – a group for people with learning disabilities.

Fahmina is now also part of the Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership, which seeks to improve things for people with learning disabilities in the county.

Fahmina outside the London Canal Museum, where the Learning Disability Network London event took place.

Self-advocacy is speaking up for yourself and other people with learning disabilities.

That’s what Fahmina told event host and journalist Saba Salman, the author of the book Made Possible: Stories of Success By People with Learning Disabilities – in Their Own Words.

It’s to get our voices heard around issues like GP services and social care, and getting people with influence to listen to us.”

Fahmina and Trish Moody, VoiceAbility’s Speak Out Facilitator for Hampshire, on the train journey up to London with Saba Salman’s book, Made Possible.

Asked what has helped her to be where she is today, Fahmina said: Where I am today I would say is because of my primary school, St Marks [in Brighton]. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be the Fahmina that I am today. 

They recognised my barriers and challenges. They helped me by reaching out to a charity called Amaze and, as a team, they supported me to move to a special needs school. From there, step by step, I’ve improved my life.”

The event concluded with Saba asking Fahmina that if someone made a film of her life, who would play her.

Fahmina said:

This might sound a little bit cheesy, but I think I’d play the character as myself, me.

The audience applauded as Saba replied: Spoken like a true self-advocate.”

Journalist Saba Salman with speakers Laura Broughton, Gary Bourlet and Fahmina Hoque.

Speaking afterwards, Fahmina said: I did my best to be confident and I’m proud of myself.

I found it interesting to hear from other people with learning disabilities. I did not know the other people speaking, but it made me feel not alone.”