On Friday (27 February) Emma attended an event organised by learning disability charities together with South Tyneside Council, to give people with learning disabilities a chance to question parliamentary candidates ahead of the general election.
Mencap, Your Voice Counts, and Arts4Wellbeing organised the event as part of Mencap’s Hear My Voice campaign, which aims to get the views of people with learning disabilities and their families on the agenda for the general election.
Emma is the latest to confirm her support for the campaign and joins a host of other MPs and future candidates who have signed-up to say they are listening to the voices of people with a learning disability on the new Hear my voice website: www.hear-my-voice-org-uk.
Through the website, people with a learning disability and their families have a space to share their experiences with their local MP and, in return, MPs and candidates can show their support by signing-up to say they are listening.
“Too often, people with learning disabilities get left out of our national conversation. But their views are very important, especially when it comes to debates on things like healthcare and our welfare system. When their voices are ignored you end up with harmful government policies, like the cuts to Disabled Students Allowances that will make it harder for people with learning disabilities to study, or Work Capability Assessments that wrongly declare people fit for work.
“We need a more inclusive debate, and so I am pleased to be working with Mencap’s Hear My Voice campaign so that people with learning disabilities can take part in these important conversations. I’m also pleased that Labour is taking an inclusive approach to fixing our benefits system, and that disabled people will be involved in redesigning Work Capability Assessments.”
Representatives from Mencap have also spoken about the great work the campaign is doing nationally.
Jan Tregelles, Mencap’s chief executive, said:
“It is encouraging to see so many MPs listening to people with a learning disability and their families about the problems they face and the change they want to see in the next Parliament. They are the experts in what matters to them, so prospective candidates should be listening to what they have to say when they are out on the campaign trail.”
Lord Brian Rix, Mencap President, said:
“There are 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 6 million more family members and carers connected to them. However they often tell us they feel they are not listened to by politicians and subsequently many of the challenges they face go unheard and unresolved. We are asking Members of Parliament and prospective candidates to listen to what people with a learning disability and their families have to say.”
The campaign has also given rise to a Manifesto, which explores the issues that matter most to people with a learning disability and their families and on which they want to see action from the next UK government. These include improving healthcare for people with a learning disability, ending disability hate crime and improving support in education.
Mencap Young Ambassador Aaron, who is 19-years-old, didn’t get the extra support he needed with reading and writing when he was at school. He said:
“If I’d had more support I could have got better grades and my life could be very different. I think there should be more training for teachers and people who work in schools so they recognise people who need support and understand people’s needs. I’m talking to you today because I hope you, as MPs, want to make a difference and stand up for people with as well. We want to go forwards, not backwards.”