People with learning disabilities need their voices heard

www.nesta.org.uk/feature/social-movements-health/people-learning-disabilities-need-their-voices-heard/
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People with learning disabilities are calling for their voices to be heard.

Who are Self Advocacy Together?

People with learning disabilities die 16 years earlier than the rest of the population. 28% of people with learning disabilities die before they are 50.

Often people with learning disabilities experience poor quality health and care services, as evidenced by the scandals surrounding Winterbourne View and Whorlton Hall. Research into premature deaths of people with a learning disability also found that 38% of people with a learning disability died from an avoidable cause, compared to 9% in a comparison population of people without a learning disability.

Despite efforts by policymakers to improve services for people with Learning Disabilities, often decisions about health and care services are taken without the input of people with learning disabilities themselves.

The Self Advocacy Together movement brings together leading regional self advocacy hubs to coordinate efforts to campaign for the rights of people with learning disabilities. Local self advocacy hubs have worked effectively to engage with services and support people to get their voices heard. However, there has never been a coordinated national campaign led by learning disability self advocates. Together with Learning Disability England, the local self advocacy hubs are building a movement to demand change.

Tackling this health issue

The movement has begun by coordinating their activities. In response to the news from Whorlton Hall, one of the local hubs, Bemix in Kent, created 6 Big Questions which were then shared by all the self advocacy groups, maximising impact.

For the first time, protests about the detention of people with learning disabilities in Assessment and Treatment Units were coordinated nationally with people from across the country coming to London to share their frustration at continued abuses. Together they are planning events and actions - culminating in a day of action in late 2020.

The group has now coalesced around three clear ambitions and will continue to build momentum towards achieving:

  • The closure of all Assessment and Treatment Units
  • The development of local self advocacy hubs all over the country
  • A significant increase in the opportunities for paid employment for people with learning disabilities.

An easy read vision for the movement can be seen here.