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Why we want Theresa May to walk in the shoes of people with learning disabilities

发布时间:2018-06-26 10:13:28作者:人大 来源:the GUARDIAN 卫报 浏览次数:0 网友评论 0

 Campaign calls on MPs to recognise the challenges faced by people with a learning disability 

Becky and Henry, with Billy David and project manager Cynthia Webb, travelled to Downing Street to present the prime minister with a custom-built pair of shoes.
 Becky and Henry, with Billy Davis and outgoing project manager for inclusion Cynthia Webb, travelled to Downing Street to present the prime minister with a custom-built pair of shoes. Photograph: Hft/PA
The government is not listening to adults with learning disabilities. So we are marching on Downing Street to make sure our voice is heard – Becky and Henry

Just because someone has a learning disability doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to be listened to. Communication may be challenging for them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion. We all have a responsibility to help ensure those voices are heard.

I recently had the privilege of being asked to help create a campaign enabling people, supported by Hft, to speak for themselves and be heard by the people best able to influence change, our MPs.

This is how the idea for Walk In Our Shoes was born. Everyone understands what it means to walk in another person’s shoes, but the people we support tell us that they don’t think the government gives enough consideration to the challenges they face, which are as unique to each person as their favourite pair of shoes.

Becky told me: “It was important that Theresa May heard how hard it can be finding a job. I find it really unfair that I don’t get offered jobs because of my disability. I can do the job like anybody else. I am about to start a paid job at Hft as a quality checker and the extra money means I can finally have extra income to save for a rainy day.

“When I go out, people talk to my [support worker] about me. This really annoys me. Why not speak to me? When people speak to me and listen to my needs, then it makes me feel like I can do anything.”

Henry has different concerns. He said: “I wrote to Theresa May about public toilet closures. As toilets close, I can’t use toilets in places familiar to me. I then either don’t go out or have to use toilets with strangers, which makes me feel uncomfortable. If all the public toilets where I lived closed down, my life would be really hard.
 

“People often don’t hear me because they think I’m shy. This makes me feel angry. Taking the time to listen to me makes me feel calmer and chatty. I have a lot to say – and so do other people with learning disabilities – but I don’t feel that we always have the chance to have our say.”

May’s love of shoes is well known. So Walk In Our Shoes was about inviting her to try on a new pair for size, one we had custom made, decorated with the faces of supporters of the campaign. Becky and Henry, members of Hft’s Voices to be Heard group, delivered them to Downing Street with a request that the prime minister encourage her MPs to spend time listening to people with learning disabilities. 

For me this was a watershed moment. I have seen Voices to be Heard take an active role in working to shape policy and make a difference. I’ve seen first-hand the impact that sharing experiences can have and I know that, as a result, policy change is afoot.
 

For me this was a watershed moment. I have seen Voices to be Heard take an active role in working to shape policy and make a difference. I’ve seen first-hand the impact that sharing experiences can have and I know that, as a result, policy change is afoot.

Walk In Our Shoes has been an incredible and unifying experience for all involved. Henry was interviewed by his local BBC station about his involvement in the campaign; his friends and support staff tuned in to watch at a special screening. I have never seen him smile wider.

If you look at adult social care spend in England, learning disabilities accounts for a third and is growing. By 2028 it is estimated to have overtaken elderly care in terms of expenditure for most councils. A growing number of adults with learning disabilities have opinions and concerns – they need to be listened to.

With the impending social care green paper and parallel workstream on younger disabled adults it’s timelier than ever that the voices of people with learning disabilities are heard. We need politicians to walk in their shoes and spend time finding out more about the issues that matter to them if we are to be successful in influencing positive and long lasting policy change.

I am so proud to have supported Becky and Henry to deliver the shoes. We hope to see the prime minister in them soon …

  • Billy Davis is Hft’s public affairs and policy manager; this post was written in conjunction with Becky and Henry
【available at https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2018/jun/15/theresa-may-walk-in-shoes-people-with-learning-disabilities 】

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