Nine speak out to back ‘contract for the future’


Nine leading disabled activists have backed a new “contract for the future”, which lays out the 15 changes that need to be made to improve the lives of people with learning difficulties.

The nine leaders, who all have learning difficulties, spoke out to support the new Agreeing Together document, which was put together by members of the Learning Disability Coalition and launched at a meeting in the House of Lords this week.

The coalition – whose members include People First Self Advocacy and the National Forum of People with Learning Difficulties (NFPLD) – asked people with learning difficulties what needed to change to improve their lives over the next 10 years.

It is now asking campaigners to send the document to their MPs and ask them to sign up to the report.

Among the 15 principles, Agreeing Together calls for everyone to be “valued and treated equally and fairly” and to be safe from hate crime.

Other principles call for accessible information, funding for self-advocacy groups, cheap and safe transport, the chance to work, and for people to be “supported to have an independent life and be able to make their own decisions”.

Cllr Gavin Harding, former co-chair of the NFPLD and now an elected town councillor in Selby, Yorkshire, says in the document: “We need to make sure that people with learning disabilities are getting the right support so that they are not victims of hate crime or mate crime.”

Scott Watkin, the former co-national director for learning disabilities, adds: “Self advocacy groups are facing lots of cuts in funding because councils are prioritising other things.”

And Andrew Lee, co-chair of the coalition and director of People First Self Advocacy, says: “I think that in the 21st century, there needs to be a politician brave enough to do something with social care and quality support that will relieve pressure on the NHS and other services that support people in a crisis.”

Josie Scantlebury, a campaigns assistant at Mencap, added: “Having a voice is really important because it lets us be heard and raises awareness. People need to listen to us and not look down to us.”

The other leading self-advocates who spoke out in support of the Agreeing Together principles in the document are Ismail Kaji, Ben Turner, Pat Charlesworth, Jackie Downer and Lloyd Page.

24 May 2012

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