Gary Bourlet explains what Learning Disability England is and why he thinks we should create this new organisation.
Learning Disability England is a coming-together of people with learning disabilities, their families and organisations.
People First England is working with Housing & Support Alliance to create this new organisation.
H&SA came and spoke to me in 2012 and said that they wanted to help make People First England happen. They wanted to help make it a success.
Different charities and organisations and individuals put in money to make People First England happen.
We wanted People First England to become a big independent organisation but this couldn’t happen because we didn’t have enough money.
People First England continued as a project under the Housing & Support Alliance umbrella.
There is an Australian campaign called Every Australian Counts.
We decided that we wanted to bring this model to England.
It’s about self-advocates, families and organisations coming together but still having their own identity.
There’s strength in numbers.
Learning Disability England will help its members change things and campaign for improvements.
Learning Disability England will also train self-advocates to speak to the media and politicians.
Learning Disability England will work to change policies.
Life for people with learning disabilities in England is not good at the moment.
There are lots of problems with benefits being cut, no affordable housing and people with learning disabilities are being seen as scroungers.
Hate crime has increased.
People are dying in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs).
Institutions like this aren’t closing quickly enough and new ones are popping up, like in Wiltshire.
Learning Disability England will bring people together to fight all these bad things that are happening and to campaign for the rights of people with learning disabilities and their families.
It’s important that self-advocates are involved in Learning Disability England so they get a chance to voice their concerns, be listened to and feel important.
There will be lots of challenges along the way, some things will be easier than others.
I think that one of the hard things about creating Learning Disability England will be working out what we can and can’t achieve.
Keeping going for the long term and building a capacity will also be a challenge.
We may need to take risks.
And if we make mistakes we will learn from them.
We need to find out how the Australians made Every Australian Counts work.
The next step is to get people to suggest ideas.
We’re going to be running workshops.
We’re going to be talking to people and listening to people.
We need to start bringing people together.
Then we will know what lots of people think and we can put together a plan for Learning Disability England.
Self-advocates can get involved by going back to their self-advocacy groups and asking them what they think about Learning Disability England.
If you want to be involved you can contact us using the contact form on this website.
Nothing about us, without us!
By Gary Bourlet