Save Self-Advocacy!! #NoVoice

The Department of Health has signalled that it is likely to end funding for the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities and the National Valuing Families Forum from March 2017. This announcement has prompted very real fears that the voices of people with learning disabilities will not be heard.

As it stands, it looks as if just two years after the publication of “No Voice Unheard, No Rights Ignored”, the voices of people with learning disabilities will effectively be silenced at the national level. Cuts to self-advocacy come at a time when our research found that self-advocacy offers vital support to people with learning disabilities, particularly in a time of austerity.

As part of our research, people with learning disabilities told us why self-advocacy matters to them:

  • ‘Campaigning for things that we are passionate about fighting for our rights’;
  • ‘Provides help and advice for people who are having problems with their life’;
  • ‘Helping other people with learning disabilities to speak up’.
  • ‘Being a self advocate has given me more confidence at
  • meeting new people and helped me get a job and also live on my own’;
  • ‘Coming to my advocacy group has helped be to have more confidence in my ability to live on my own, and be a part of the community’

We found that:

  • Often people with learning disabilities are the people best placed to support decision making in the lives of other people with learning disabilities;
  • Relatives, friends and supporters of people with learning disabilities felt equally supported by self-advocacy groups;
  • Self-advocacy groups take many forms. Some are based in services, others in residential homes and many others in the community;
  • Self-advocacy promotes resilience of people with learning disabilities and their families;
  • The cuts have led to the closure of numerous local self-advocacy groups which leaves many people with learning disabilities and their families isolated and lonely in the community;
  • Many self-advocacy groups have expertise around person centred planning, community living and employment that service providers and policy makers are learning from.

Our message to government is that:

Self-advocacy groups play a crucial role in the lives of people with learning disabilities and that funding to self-advocacy services should not be cut.

Follow the campaign to save self-advocacy #novoice.