No voice unheard
In March, the former Care Minister, Norman Lamb, set out a green paper called ‘No voice unheard, no right ignored – a consultation for people with learning disabilities'.
The green paper was about finding out what people with learning disabilities thought would improve their rights, help them live in the community and be supported to live more independent lives. The government knows it needs to do something about these topics so that Assessment and Treatment Units don’t become places where people get trapped and isolated like in the old, long-stay institutions. Read our previous news article for more information.
These are important issues and, like most charitable organisations working with people with learning disabilities, we knew we needed to say something about them. We wanted to make sure our voice was heard about the issues discussed in the paper but it can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to represent the views of people with learning disabilities without asking them what their views actually are! After all it is not 'our voice' that's going unheard; it's the voice of people we support.
We've compiled a full response which uses the words of people we support:
'We should have the same rights as anyone else. It's important to be independent and to be part of the community.'
'I should be given a choice of where I live; options, not just the first place that is suitable.'
'Being looked after and remaining well is important to me, so involve me.'
'We have to give people different ways to have their say. Don’t expect people to speak up if they don’t understand.'
'We must be involved in all aspects of our care and we should be listened to. We are important.'
One person even drew their community as they saw it as their response (image above).
Since the consultation was launched there's been a new Care Minister, Alistair Burt. It will be his responsibility to make sure that actions come from what's been said. We, as an organisation, have a responsibility to ensure those we support speak up and that we don’t speak instead; it's the government’s responsibility to listen.
The consultation ends on 29 May, so if you, or someone you know, has something to say about these issues, please respond. More information is available on the government website.
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