Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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3 Family advocacy

While many people with learning disabilities can speak for themselves, for others, this may be a very challenging – if not impossible – task. In these instances, parents and other family members often advocate on behalf of their relatives who cannot speak for themselves.

Listen to this short video of Phil, who you first met in Session 1, talking about how his parents were in the ‘vanguard’ of the social policy changes that have happened since the mid-twentieth century:

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Family advocacy really took off in the post-war period. Parents who were unhappy that their children were being denied access to education started actively campaigning and networking with each other.

The organisation which later became Mencap (England and Wales) was founded in the 1940s and Enable (Scotland) was founded in 1954. The energy and passion of collective parent advocacy has revived since austerity measures began to impact on social care after 2008. But family advocates often report how hard they’ve had to fight to ensure their relatives get the support and care they need. For many, it’s something that they think about 24/7 and the strain often affects their own health and wellbeing (Walmsley et al., 2017).

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