New charter aims to put dignity and respect at heart of local services

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Disabled campaigners have launched a new charter that aims to persuade organisations – and individuals – in their local area to treat people with dignity and respect.

Ken and Tracy McClymont have spent four years working on the Dudley Dignity Charter, which lists 10 key principles for how people should be treated, focusing on areas such as communication, privacy, choice, control, advocacy and fairness.

The McClymonts, both key figures in Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living (Dudley CIL), have worked on the charter with another local disabled people’s organisation, Disability In Action, with support from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Healthwatch Dudley.

The couple have spent years seeking the views of disabled people in Dudley on what should be in the charter, by visiting council-run community forums, day centres, youth clubs for disabled young people, libraries and the local hospital.

They were told how disabled people were being rushed by care workers who had to hurry to their next appointment; how service-providers were failing to listen to what service-users were telling them and not giving them time to explain their needs; and how schools were failing to provide support to their disabled pupils, among many other examples of disabled people not being treated with dignity and respect.

Patterns soon began to emerge from what they were being told, which they worked into the charter’s 10 key principles.

The McClymonts now plan to take the charter “out on the road”, explaining its 10 principles by running stands at local events and locations such as supermarkets and libraries.

They also hope – by setting up a new Dudley Dignity Council – to be able to monitor the implementation of the charter, hold service-users to account, and even award dignity charter marks to organisations that show a commitment to the 10 principles.

Ken McClymont, who chairs Dudley CIL, said: “Dignity is something we all want, along with respect, but it is a very hard thing for people to explain and define.”

He said he was “buoyed up” by the launch event (pictured), which was attended by three of the four local MPs, the council’s deputy leader and chief executive, and representatives of the local transport authority, mental health trust and the three emergency services.

He added: “This charter is unique in that it has been created by the local people themselves.

“We do hope that many local people, businesses, voluntary groups and others with connections to the borough will sign up to the charter to encourage everyone to make dignity a thing of importance.

“We all want to be treated with dignity and respect, and hope that this charter will start a conversation.”

Cllr Judy Foster, deputy leader of Dudley council, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to have joined those at the Dudley Dignity Charter launch event today.

“By working together, we can rightly put dignity at the heart of care here in Dudley borough.

“The charter has been over four years in the making and it is a testament to the dedication and hard work of everyone at Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living and Disability in Action.”

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