Written by Clare Melvin
Your Right to Your Vote.
With the schools returning to class this week so are the politicians, with Whitehall being possibly the biggest playground of them all.
There are approximately 1.5 million adults in the UK with learning disabilities. People with a learning disability have the same right to vote as anyone. Like all voters, they must be over 18 years old, and must meet the nationality and residence criteria laid out by the Electoral Commission.
In the current political climate it is more important than ever that everyone is informed and included in deciding the future.
With the right support, everybody with a learning disability can vote as long as they can communicate who they want to vote for. Someone can complete the ballot paper on a person’s behalf (voting by proxy), however a parent, spouse, carer or support worker cannot chose how they think the person with learning disabilities would, or should, vote. Section 29 of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) says that a person can only appoint a proxy if they have the mental capacity to do so (see last week’s blog for more information on the Mental Capacity Act).
Every Vote Counts is a project by United Response that is committed to providing easy to understand information on politics. It was created with input from people with learning disabilities and contains sections on how politics works, how politics affects you and how to vote, including why we vote, registering to vote and the different kinds of things you can vote for e.g. elections and referendums. They also have information for carers and politicians.
Other organisations are supporting individuals with learning disabilities to fulfill their right to vote. Dimensions focused on supporting someone with learning disabilities to vote in their #loveyourvote campaign, designed to make politics accessible. Their website contains a video on reasons why people voted in the 2017 elections, links to the the political parties and a Dimensions-Voting-Passport to take to the polling station.
Louder Voice (@voice_louder) are a group of self advocates, families & support workers learning how to use social media to influence change. They have produce a series of videos role playing how parliament works – watch Jeremy Corbyn here and Theresa May here.
Votes for Women! (with LD!)
A blog by Catherine Carter, a project worker at CHANGE and woman with learning disabilities, reports on how voting is still a dream for many women with learning disabilities. The piece looks at the history of women’s right to vote and how things are today for people with learning disabilities and their right to vote.
Be Involved – Research and Consultations.
Help shape a new national programme on ethnic inequalities and mental illness in the UK. A national public survey will aim to gather the opinions of the public, including patients and services users, carers, health and social care practitioners, commissioners, charities and private companies, volunteers and students on ethnic inequalities and mental illness. The survey is being launched in the face of longstanding ethnic inequalities and wants to identify the top priorities for research on ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness in the UK. The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and is anonymous. You can read more about the survey here (scroll down to under job advertisements) and take part through this link.
Transition for young people with learning disabilities or Autism:
A small research team from the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, are trying to find out more about what happens when young people with learning disabilities or autism leave residential school or college. The research team includes family carers and people with learning disabilities/autism as advisors and they are looking to interview young people and family carers about their views and experiences of the transition process. The project is dedicated to finding out: where young people with learning disabilities or autism go after residential school/college, what their experiences (good and bad) are of the move and how the moving on process can be improved for everyone involved. If you would like to know more or take part in the project please see this Tizard Research Poster or the project website. You can also contact Nicola Elson at email@example.com.
LD In the News.
- The NHS is developing a long term plan and is inviting those who use and work within the NHS to contribute. There is a discussion guide (and easy read version) to help with understanding and ideas across three themes of life stage, clinical priorities and enablers of improvement. Find out more here and at Learning Disability England.
- Read a trainee teacher’s view on why autism training is so important.
- Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is welcoming some of the world’s most gifted performers for a unique event proving disability is no limit to musical talent. Read more about this concert to show disability is no barrier to musical talent.
Events & Conferences:
- Autism and Technology, 20th September, London. This FREE one day conference will feature the latest research and developments in technology for autistic individuals and the professionals who support them. The event is supported by the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH) and the UEFA Foundation for Children. Topics include:
- technology for autistic individuals
- keeping safe online
- technology assisted classrooms
- meaningful tools for a fulfilling life
Book your place here.
- Autism and Mental Health Conference, 12th September 2018, Leeds, UK. This National Autistic Society conference will provide tools and strategies to identify and target support for autistic children and adults who have mental health difficulties. Key topics include: reducing stress and anxiety in school; accessing support through online communities; tackling mental health issues in young girls; achieving positive mental health and wellbeing, and; mindfulness and stress reduction. Find out more and book your place here.
- Sign up to the Greater London Learning Disability Community of Practice free launch event! 7th November 2018 at the Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury. Come along and join the new community providing opportunities for people with learning disabilities, families, carers and professionals. Find out more and Book your place here.