I recently attended a Royal Mencap Society reception in the House of Commons to mark Learning Disability Week.
At the reception, I spoke to people with a learning disability, their carers and family members to understand their personal experiences, the challenges they face and the changes they want to see in society. There were speeches from people with a learning disability and their families as well as Mencap President, Brian Rix.
I listened to a speech from 27 year old Vijay, who has a learning disability and played an active role in Mencap’s Hear My Voice campaign. The campaign saw over 800 local candidates in the lead up to the general election pledge their support (including me!). 151 of us were elected as MPs – meaning over a fifth of the new Parliament pledged to listen more attentively to people with a learning disability and their families.
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but many feel they are not listened to by those in power and the issues they that are important to them – like hate crime, welfare, better healthcare and education – are often not talked about.
Jan Tregelles, Mencap’s chief executive, said “It is encouraging to see so many MPs listening to people with a learning disability and their families about the problems they face and the change they want to see in the new Parliament. They are the experts in what matters to them, so newly elected MPs should be listening to what they have to say throughout the new Parliament”
Lord Brian Rix, Mencap President, said “There are 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 6 million more family members and carers connected to them. However they often tell us they feel they are not listened to by politicians and subsequently many of the challenges they face go unheard and unresolved. We are asking new Members of Parliament to listen to what people with a learning disability and their families have to say.”
People with a learning disability and their families are as much a part of our society as anyone else and deserve to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them. I am listening and I hope that many more MPs will do the same by getting on board and supporting Mencap and Learning Disability Week.
To find out more about Mencap’s Learning Disability Week click here.