When we launched Learning Disability England we awarded lifetime memberships to 8 self-advocates who had inspired us. We’ve been interviewing them so you can get to know them better!
Here’s our interview with Jackie Downer MBE.
Jackie is an experienced and active self-advocate who is fantastic at challenging organisations to make sure they’re actually making a difference for people with learning disabilities.
How did you become a self advocate?
I wanted to learn to be able to speak up for myself as a person with learning disabilities and also for other disabled people. I used to work at a place called Lambeth Accord where they helped me to become a self advocate and also my support worker Linnett helped me.
If you could change one thing that would make life better for people with learning disabilities, what would it be?
I would like for people to listen to us and our needs. It would be nice if people changed their attitude towards people with learning disabilities.
What needs to happen for people with learning disabilities to have good homes?
I live by myself but I would like it if I had nicer neighbours, a carer that would come and see me and also a safer community. As I am getting older it is harder for me to get up the stairs so a house that is easily accessible would be really helpful. I think people with learning disabilities need all the above as well.
Why do you think it’s important for people with learning disabilities, families and organisations to work together?
I think it’s important because it helps to support people like me. If we work together then I will know what I need help with, what kind of care I need or don’t need anymore. Working together can improve my quality of care and life.
If you could say one thing to all of our member organisations, what would it be?
Keep people with disabilities in the know and don’t exclude us.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for LDE?
What are your hopes for LDE?
I hope that they listen to the members needs. I hope that they can really speak for people with learning disabilities and make a change!
What’s your advice to other self-advocates who want to speak up?
I would say to try a self advocacy group to help with getting confidence. Have good people around you that can help you when you ever feel scared.
Tell us about a time when you’ve spoken up and something has changed.
One time I spoke about the need of having a women’s group, so that women could support each other and maybe do things they wanted to do. The group was started and funded and it really helped some women with disabilities to develop their own voice and indolence.