Just because someone has a learning disability doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to be listened to. Communication may be challenging for them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion. We all have a responsibility to help ensure those voices are heard.
I recently had the privilege of being asked to help create a campaign enabling people, supported by Hft, to speak for themselves and be heard by the people best able to influence change, our MPs.
This is how the idea for Walk In Our Shoes was born. Everyone understands what it means to walk in another person’s shoes, but the people we support tell us that they don’t think the government gives enough consideration to the challenges they face, which are as unique to each person as their favourite pair of shoes.
Becky told me: “It was important that Theresa May heard how hard it can be finding a job. I find it really unfair that I don’t get offered jobs because of my disability. I can do the job like anybody else. I am about to start a paid job at Hft as a quality checker and the extra money means I can finally have extra income to save for a rainy day.
“When I go out, people talk to my [support worker] about me. This really annoys me. Why not speak to me? When people speak to me and listen to my needs, then it makes me feel like I can do anything.”
Henry has different concerns. He said: “I wrote to Theresa May about public toilet closures. As toilets close, I can’t use toilets in places familiar to me. I then either don’t go out or have to use toilets with strangers, which makes me feel uncomfortable. If all the public toilets where I lived closed down, my life would be really hard.