On Wednesday 10 September, Jim Fitzpatrick, Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse attended the launch of Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign in the House of Commons.
The new campaign is about empowering people with a learning disability and their families to make sure their voices are heard by their local MPs and candidates in the lead up to the May 2015 General Election.
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, better healthcare and education – are often not talked about.
Jim was one of the MPs confirming their support for the campaign at yesterday’s event.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:
“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 and potential candidates will do the same by getting on board with Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign.”
Over 40 MPs attended the launch event where people with a learning disability and their families talked to them about the campaign and the things that matter most to them.
MPs showed their support by signing-up to say, “I’m listening”, on the new campaign website: www.hear-my-voice-org-uk
Through the campaign website, people with a learning disability and their families are given a space to share their experiences with their local MP and, in return, MPs and candidates are able to show their support by signing up to say they are listening.
MPs also received a copy of the Mencap Manifesto, which contained the issues that matter most to people with a learning disability and their families and on which they want to see action from the next UK government. These include improving healthcare for people with a learning disability, ending disability hate crime and improving support in education.
MPs were then presented with exclusive regional polling data* relevant to their constituencies, which revealed a national call for urgent action to be taken by the next UK government to tackle learning disability discrimination and exclusion.
The event opened with a speech from Mencap President, Lord Brian Rix, who called on all MPs and future candidates to listen to what matters to people with a learning disability and their families. Further speeches were given by 19-year-old Mencap Young Ambassador, Aaron, and siblings Jonathan and Jayne Ridd who lost their brother whilst in NHS care.
Mencap President, Lord Brian Rix, 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 Members of Parliament and prospective candidates to listen to what people with a learning disability and their families have to say.”
Mencap Young Ambassador Aaron, who is 19-years-old, didn’t get the extra support he needed with reading and writing when he was at school. He said:
“If I’d had more support I could have got better grades and my life could be very different. I think there should be more training for teachers and people who work in schools so they recognise people who need support and understand people’s needs. I’m talking to you today because I hope you, as MPs, want to make a difference and stand up for people with as well. We want to go forwards, not backwards.”
Mencap’s chief executive, Jan Tregelles, also attended the event. She said:
“It was encouraging to see so many MPs listening to people with a learning disability and their families talking about the problems they face and the change they want to see in the next parliament. They are the experts in what matters to them, so prospective candidates should be listening to what they are out on the campaign trail.
To find out more about the Hear my voice campaign and Manifesto, visit: www.hear-my-voice.org.uk