VoiceAbility | Speak Out visit to Parliament with Mencap: what we said
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Speak Out visit to Parliament with Mencap: what we said

21 June 2022

Richard and Neil share their experience of asking for better services for people with learning disabilities.

On Wednesday 15 June 22, Mencap held a reception in Westminster with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Learning Disabilities. Four of our team went along to share their point of view. Here’s what Richard and Neil said about the experience.

My trip to London, by Richard

It was a good experience for me. It was really worthwhile and a good opportunity to raise issues that have been on my mind.

Richard

Everyone coming together was great and it was nice to meet people in person for the first time in over two years!

London was quite busy to walk through, and very different to my home town… people always seemed to be in a hurry. It’s nice to visit – but I’m glad I don’t live there!

I met with some other self-advocates that VoiceAbility support outside Portcullis House.

Neil from Speak Out Council, Cambridgeshire; me; Kweku, a member of People First in Waltham Forest, London; Michelle from Speak Out Lincolnshire.

The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP gave his speech first. He said disabled people’. I corrected him to make sure he included people with a learning disability.

A man called Brendan gave a very powerful speech about his life and his struggles. His speech was also written on the screens for us to read. He got a huge round of applause – bigger than the MPs did!

I spoke to Mark Harper afterwards. 

He remembered me from when I said about people with a learning disability in his speech, and we joked about me being a heckler. 

We spoke about the struggles that people in care homes have in getting the right support. They have a right to go socialising, out and about, but they often can’t because of a lack of staff. That upsets me because people with learning disabilities in care homes have rights too. They should be able to do whatever they want to do – like I can.

Richard

We also about spoke about how it was a shame that no one with a learning disability was represented in Parliament.

It was a long day but worth it. I would do it again!

Neil’s story

There were lots of people with learning disabilities there and also some MPs.

We spoke to the MP Mark Harper and I was talking to him about the pandemic and how people suffer from really bad mental health.

I was saying about the rules kept changing and there wasn’t Easy Read information straightaway which made it more confusing for people.

Mark agreed that there should be Easy Read information at the same time as other information and when he was Minister for Disabled People that was what happened. He even said that sometimes it would be better for all the government consultations to be Easy Read.

Neil

I was saying about people with a disability aren’t always getting vaccinated and I worry about that.

I also told him that people were feeling lonely in the pandemic because I know how I felt and some young people have told me that they are still lonely in the school and college holidays because they don’t live near their friends and there is nothing to do near to where they live.

I also talked to him about the fuel charges going up and I‘m worried that people won’t be able to do everything they want to do.

I also gave Mark some information about other things that the Speak Out Leaders in Cambridgeshire have heard about.

What matters to us

This is what Cambridgeshire Speak Out Leaders have heard from people with learning disabilities recently.

Easy Read information

Speak Out Leaders would like Easy Read information available at the same time as other information. For example, in the pandemic, it took a long time for Easy Read versions to be produced when the rules were changing, which meant people found things confusing and became anxious.

Feeling lonely

Young people in Cambridgeshire told us they want to be able to see their friends in the college holidays. It is sometimes hard to go to groups like guides or youth clubs, because there is no one to support young people. Someone said, I feel bored and lonely and it makes me feel sad and fed up being at home with nothing to do.’

Employment

Many people with learning disabilities want to work, we want easy to understand information about how to get work. We want employers to know and understand how to support us. We want to easily be able to use public transport to get to work.

Health waiting times

Many people have said they are fed up with long waiting times for hospital or doctor appointments. One young person said this made her anxiety a lot worse and there was no support available for this.

Reasonable adjustments in hospital

Speak Out Council have been doing a lot of work about health services. People told us they want to see more reasonable adjustments in hospitals, for example Easy Read information about procedures, easy to follow signs and more training for all hospital staff (not just learning disability nurses) about how to support people with a learning disability.

Training about Learning Disability

Speak Out Leaders feel there should be more training for everyone about living with a learning disability.