Livewire - July 20, 2011

Have your say

By Michael Crowther, chief officer, Blackpool Advocacy

many were shocked by the recent Panorama report about the institutionalised discrimination and abuse of people with learning disabilities in “caring” establishments, who were unable to challenge the appalling treatment they received.

It is an abuse of human rights. Statistically, people who have generally poor health and social care are those who cannot challenge when it goes wrong.

Tomorrow, Blackpool Advocacy, which speaks up for those with learning disabilities, among others, has an event, from 10.30am to 3pm, lunch provided – stay as long as you like – to give local people with learning disabilities (LD) a chance to meet a group of inspirational self advocates in Yorkshire via a live web link.

This is at Blackpool Centre for Independent Living on Whitegate Drive. The Yorkshire group will share best practice, what they have achieved and the methods used.

The whole presentation is to encourage people with learning disabilities to campaign for their rights and speak up for themselves.

We will attend along with some of service users.

We plan to run short courses, six sessions, in September. They will be for local people wanting their say at the learning disability partnership board, facilitated by Blackpool Council, which brings service providers and decision makers face to face with people with LD, and their carers.

It’s a powerful, often very moving, meeting, with adult social care service providers held to account by the very people who require their services.

Our aim is to train more up and add more weight to the voice of those with LD.

We work with people with LD and anyone who needs someone to speak up for them. We attend meetings and appointments. Nothing concentrates a service provider’s mind than having an advocate in on the meeting. We also give them the skills and confidence to speak up if they think something is wrong with the health or social care they receive.

Blackpool Advocacy is Blackpool’s best kept secret. We have worked with 1,000 people in the past year, people who find it hard to get help and support.

If you know someone with LD who needs a greater say, or feels no one is listening, or their, or your, health or social care, is not good enough, come tomorrow, or get in touch.

Remember our mantra: no decision about me without me.

n Call 01253 405959 or visit