Simon Cramp is a self-advocate and a lifetime member of Learning Disability England.
Here he talks about what LDE needs to do, what the EU Referendum means for us and Learning Disability Week.
What do you think Learning Disability England needs to do to change things for the better for people with learning disabilities?
We have to be seen as one united voice as the likes of government, the public sector and local government will not listen if we look like we can’t agree on what our main focus is.
Secondly we need to all say the same thing, i.e. if we have a view on something we all need to agree and we need to share the workload. So say if you need someone to chair a conference it is not the same person all the time and we don’t have people with ego that think they are better that the rest of us.
Learning Disability England will need to create policies and we could do this at the annual conference. And then people like me will speak for Learning Disability England on policy issues.
It might be hard for us to be heard by politicians at the moment. Now that we have left the European Union the government is looking for a new leader and the opposition has to remake its shadow cabinet. As I write this there may not be any politicians with power left to put our point across to.
So Learning Disability England has some real challenges and hard work ahead of itself. Once all the politics has settled down we need to ask our membership what our priorities should be for the coming year, so that could be better access to social care for example. Better help when going into hospital or getting your teeth looked after – whatever our members think is important.
What do you think about Learning Disability Week?
I think Learning Disability Week is out of touch because of the way it was first done over 20 years ago and it has not moved on since. It is very London centred. It used to have a reception at the Houses of Parliament and it was lovely as we had speeches.
I remember one year when the theme was day services and it had a report attached to but didn’t get much coverage apart from say BBC News online and the Guardian and a bit on the radio programme You and Yours.
The main charity that promoted it was Mencap and I was a trustee there for 4 years and I am not sure it has the same influence it once had in getting the key messages over.
What are the big issues for people with learning disabilities?
One the main things we need to do is get learning disability up the agenda. At the moment I would say that learning disability is at the bottom of the pile.
In government learning disability is split between lots of different departments. If we have a learning disability and special educational needs, that comes under the Department of Health and the Department of Education, and a bit of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills that is for adult education.
And when you think of the recent government spending review and the whole issue of leaving the European Union then we have some real challenges as all these issues will cause uncertainty and disappointment.
People with learning disabilities will be worried about social security (benefits) housing, home ownership, employment, education and how kids with a learning disability are going to get a good start and the extra help they need.
If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
My one wish for the future is for everyone to be nice and treat everyone as equals but this isn’t happening, so for now I can only dream.