Minority ethnic communities ‘must be taken seriously’


People with learning difficulties from ethnic minorities are still missing out on services, according to a prominent campaigner.
Richard West, co-chair of the National Advisory Group on Learning Disability and Ethnicity (NAGLDE), told the Community Care Live event in London that services were not good at supporting people with learning difficulties from black and minority ethnic communities (BME).
West, who is black and has a learning difficulty, said there was not enough support with language, and unequal access to health services.
He said: “It’s bad for people with a learning disability. It’s even worse for BME people with a learning disability.”
Half the learning disability partnership boards that took part in a survey in 2007 had failed to carry out a race equality impact assessment, he said.
He said NAGLDE had worked with the Department of Health’s Valuing People and Valuing People Now teams since before 2002. But he said: “I am pleased that Valuing People Now has taken us very seriously. They want to make sure it is taken seriously by everyone else as well.”
He said there were “some examples of good practice”, but added: “People from BME communities are still missed out on services. Many councils still do not know the ethnicity of the people who use their services.”
He also welcomed the increased recognition of disablist hate crime, but added: “It can be worse for us. We believe if you are a BME person with a learning disability you will get racist abuse that gets worse when they realise you have a learning disability as well.
“This is serious. We need to do some work on this to show how true it is. We then need to get it recognised, talked about and to do something about it.”