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

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

2.1 The impact of self-advocacy

Self-advocacy is about people with learning disabilities working together to make change. This could be about personal change, or political change. The main point about self-advocacy is that it recognises that people with learning disabilities are the experts in their own lives.

Watch this film of Kelly Edwards, a self-advocacy support worker at Northamptonshire People First self-advocacy group, talking about the importance of ‘peer support’.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 5
Skip transcript: Video 5

Transcript: Video 5

We have a lot of new members come on, but you've then got the old members to guide them, as well. It's not just about me guiding them it's about them taking experiences from the older members.
And we also run a-- once a week, we just have a drop-in morning. And it's just literally for people to chat about life experiences. And then someone will say, this is going on, and I'm struggling with this. And someone say, ah, I've had that issue.
So a lot of the time, it's about them finding their own solutions. And then, occasionally, I'll have to chip in, or another member of staff will say, have you've tried this? Have you tried that? But generally, there's another member there who's been through the same sort of thing, so they can help them out, really.
We try not to-- unless we really have to, we try not to-- we're there to support. And if they ask for advice, we'll give advice. And if we feel that someone is really in danger, then we will step in. But generally, between them, and the older members, and other members' experiences, they can sort it out themselves, really.
End transcript: Video 5
Video 5
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Now complete Activity 4.

Activity 4 The power of self-advocacy

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

First watch this film about Shaun Picken talking about his involvement in self-advocacy group My Life My Choice.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 6
Skip transcript: Video 6

Transcript: Video 6

What self-advocacy groups are for is to talk about sex and relationships. They talk about politics. They talk about whatever needs to be spoken about, which are important to people with learning disabilities. And what they are for is to help gain confidence so people with learning disabilities, so they don't feel isolated.
They become more a part of society. They get more friends. They seem to go out more. They seem to live life to the full, and they seem to be a little bit more politically aware, which is good because you need to be politically aware.
Funding is a massive problem. Self-advocacy charities are closing left, right and centre at the moment.
End transcript: Video 6
Video 6
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Now click the link below to answer the poll on what you consider the most important reason for self-advocacy.

Link: Self-advocacy [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Once you have submitted your choice you can then see how others have voted.

According to Shaun, funding is also a big problem with many self-advocacy groups being forced to close. This is very concerning, especially considering how important self-advocacy groups can be for people with learning disabilities.

It is not just people with learning disabilities who are speaking up for themselves and others though. Family members also have a long history of advocating. You will explore this more in the next section.


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