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Joe’s Soapbox: Hear me, Include me, Respect me

author icon author icon 22/09/2021 author icon Joe's Soapbox

In 2017, All Wales People First consulted with:

Members

Staff in self-advocacy groups

Third Sector in Wales

To find out what they thought about All Wales People First.

What we did well.

And what we could do better.

This is called an evaluation.

The evaluation was mostly positive.

But it told some things we needed to try to improve.

The main things were:

We needed to help local groups more.

We should work more with other disability groups.

We needed to be more visible in the media.

We wrote our MIRROR Strategy to work on the things we needed to improve.

And we wrote a bid to fund some of this work from the Welsh Government.

Our bid was called ‘Hear Me, Include Me, Respect Me.’

It was signed off and agreed by the National Council.

Our bid has lots of things in it.

But the main bits of the bid were:

Regional Councils to help groups show the value of self-advocacy in the design and evaluation of their services.

AdFest to celebrate the role of people with learning disabilities in Welsh Society and to create a large event in which self-advocates can shape the future of Wales by consulting with:

The third sector (other charities)

The public sector (such as the police or the NHS)

Welsh Government

Introduction of the MIRROR Co-Ordinator to work with local groups.

I was very pleased with our strategy.

I believed it to be the right thing to do at exactly the right time.

But…

The Covid 19 restrictions happened just as we were due to start the bid.

This meant that the National and Regional Councils did not happen as they were meant too.

They took place on zoom.

In a different format.

We could not visit local groups in person to help them.

We spent most of our time working with Welsh Government.

And third sector partners.

So that we could help to shape Welsh Government policy for people with learning disabilities during Covid.

This was important work.

And our member stories were really important.

But it wasn’t what we were expecting to do.

Now we want to get back into action.

To meet with members and groups again.

This is because we want to save self-advocacy.

And we want to protect the wellbeing of our members and our staff.

We believe the best way to do that is by trying to get back to normal.

We need to make sure that we take the threat of Covid seriously.

But now, we need to take the mental health of our members and staff more seriously.

We have asked the National Council if they want to meet in person from now on.

They have agreed to meet in person in Cardiff on the 5th October.

They will then think what they want to do after that.

We will also ask the Regional Councils if they want to meet in person too.

We want our members to have as much control as possible.

This is part of being member led.

But we can only be member led within the law.

If the law changes then our approach will change with it.

This may mean less restrictions.

Or more.

Our MIRROR Co-Ordinator Philippa Davies has started to meet groups.

She has held SWAN meetings online.

SWAN stands for:

Support

Workers

Advisory

Network

Please work with her.

She is an extra pair of hands to help you during these difficult times.

As ever we will keep you updated with any developments.

VICTORY FOR SELF-ADVOCACY.

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