A group of self-advocates are calling on local councils across England to change their contracts with support providers so that service-users with learning difficulties have the freedom to stay out as late as they want.
They have written to every director of adult social care in the country to ask them to ensure their council’s contracts with support providers make it clear that they must operate flexible rotas.
This will allow service-users the chance to enjoy the same kind of social life as people who do not rely on council-funded care and support.
The Stay Up Late campaign delayed writing the letter for a year because of the extra pressure councils have been facing during the pandemic.
The charity says that institutionalised practices and inflexible support leave far too many adults with learning difficulties unable to enjoy the things they want to do, such as enjoying clubs, pubs and music gigs.
Jason O’Neill, one of the self-advocates who has sent the letters, said: “I think we need to help people with a disability or a learning disability to stay up late and go to gigs.
“For example, going to a pub or a music concert to have fun, just like other people do.”
Shannara Woodward, another self-advocate, added: “I want councils around the UK to listen to us and get involved.
“Once a council finds out about it and they start work then it’s like a domino effect.”
They say in the letters: “We know of some great support providers who have flexible rotas meaning that people with learning disabilities can be supported to live the lives they choose – which of course includes the right to Stay Up Late and have a good social life too.
“We know how important this is ourselves and makes us happy in our lives.
“Sadly though we see and hear of lots of examples of where support is inflexible.
“Before lockdown you could go to any club night for people with learning disabilities and watch the dance floor empty at 9pm.”
They and their fellow campaigners want every local authority that commissions social care to become a “No Bedtimes Council”.
The charity previously carried out a survey which found that, at 8.30pm on a typical Friday evening, 69 per cent of people with learning difficulties were either in bed or ready for bed, and only seven per cent were out socialising.
The letters were sent out by self-advocates from across England who act as ambassadors for the charity and campaign for “no bedtimes” and for adults with learning difficulties to live the lifestyle they choose.
They also want members of the public to contact their own local councillors to support the campaign.
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