Include people with learning disabilities too!
MP for Employment at Lewisham People's Parliament
Lewisham Speaking Up
This week the Prime Minster announced there will be a general election held on the 8th June. This is a great opportunity to include people with learning disabilities in our society, to make sure we have the right to vote and stand up for our rights.
But it hasn’t always been like this. Just last year in the Euro vote I asked my outreach worker if I can be registered to vote and he just said ‘don't worry about it now’. I told him it's my right to vote but I need help reading and filling out the form, he just said ‘we will do it later’ but I wasn’t registered. I feel like he brushed me off, sweep it under the carpet and it was like my opinion didn’t matter. Some support worker and even professionals don't listen to us and it’s like we don’t want to vote, it’s like what we said was treated with a pinch of salt.
But it’s not all bad, most staff are really helpful and support me. I’m an MP for Lewisham’s People’s Parliament. Back in the general election in 2015 we were given lots of talks about the general election and opportunities to ask questions. We held our own hustling and members of Lewisham Speaking Up acted as the candidates for the parties like Conservative and Labour. They had to say what they will do for people with learning disabilities if they were elected and then we voted. But this time I would like there to be a real hustling in Lewisham and with real politicians.
People from Mencap came to Lewisham in 2015 and they were so supportive, giving us advice but not telling us who to vote for. I like the work Mencap do for people with learning disabilities, always standing up for people's rights. They really helped me find a job at the Co-op supermarket. I was given a job coach, who was with me from filling out the application form, going for an interview and then staying with me on shifts until I was confident. They saw it through to the end. But I only work for four hours a week. I’m looking for another job with longer hours. I want to step up the ladder, but benefits can be a stumbling block. I know some people might not be able to work and that’s fine and should have rights to benefits. But everyone is different and should be treated as an individual.
I need support to register, because I need help reading it and sometimes pictures help. So I have asked a friend to help me and he will also be with me on 8th June to vote. Perhaps they will provide ballot papers where the candidate can be recognised by colours for their party, like blue for Conservatives or red for Labour. Maybe it’s a dream but I hope to see the following happen for everyone with learning disabilities:
Equal rights for everyone
Include us too
Speak to me like a person
Listen to people with learning disabilities
Understanding people with learning disabilities
Whoever wins this election I really hope that they listen to us, that everyone is equal, living in a society that include is and remember most importantly that people with learning disabilities are human too.
Perhaps I might become your next Prime Minister!