Representative body

The Representative Body is a group of Learning Disability England members who are elected to steer Learning Disability England.

They represent Learning Disability England members and act on their behalf, making important decisions about Learning Disability England says and does.

The Representative Body is an even split between self-advocates, families and friends, and organisations.

An illustration of the three groups that make up Learning Disability England

The members of the Representative Body make sure that Learning Disability England stays true to its values and is always working towards its goals. Any member can put themselves forward to be on the Representative Body, and all members can vote.

Voting in the 2020 Representative Body elections is now closed.

The new Representative Body members you have elected will officially join the Representative Body on 16 July 2020.

Our thanks go to Vicky Buckingham and Lorna Ely who will be standing down on this date.

The Representative Body is made up of 12 elected representatives:

Your representative Body from July 2020
People with Learning Disabilities Representatives

Jordan Smith
Rep Body Co Chair
Jordan is a man with Cerebral Palsy who since being supported by Dimensions feels like his life has been transformed by the opportunities available to him – which he has embraced with enthusiasm. He is lead spokesperson for #MyGPandMe

An advocate for others through his passion in local and national politics – a spokesperson against the barriers to voting because of his own past experiences and expertise – a true champion for LOVE YOUR VOTE

An ambassador for others supported by Dimensions as Co-Chair of the Dimensions Council, Jordan brings others together to unite to find solutions, share stories and influence how Dimensions provides support to others.

A professional in the role of Quality Consultant, a champion for ‘GREAT’ support and a fierce challenger in his quality checking role, a tough critic and able interviewer when supporting business support interviews and a wonderful story teller when training new staff around their and Dimensions values.

Lynn Jackson
Lynn is a self-advocate from the North West.

She is one of the Directors for self-advocacy group Together All Are Able, she enjoys the work they do in day centres to help people get their voices heard.

Lynn also works with the North West Training and Development Team and is a long-time attendee of their annual self-advocacy conference. She is part of their Sing and Sign group.

Lynn is passionate about challenging hate crime and helping people be less isolated and lonely.

Paul James
(From July 2020)
Paul is 37 years old and has a learning disability due to Lowe’s Syndrome. He is extremely passionate about representing and campaigning for the rights of those with learning disabilities and works 16 hours each week for his local council as a Facilitator for the Learning Disability Team.

Paul is also a director for Inclusion North (and has been for about 7 years) and is a Self- Advocate for Sunderland People First.

Paul created his own website to help promote the positives of Lowe’s Syndrome and to also show that people with learning disabilities should have the same opportunities in life as everyone else.

Paul’s Twitter and Facebook has over 4,000 followers from around the world including celebrities, organizations, general public and professionals within NHS and government. Paul has also appeared in the media including the BBCs Sunday Politics show where he expressed his opinion of how the closure of the Independent Living Fund would affect disabled people’s lives.

Paul is really looking forward to working with the Representative Body and Learning Disability England.

Jack Marshall
(from July 2020)
Jack has Moebius Syndrome which impacts his life with a number of physical and learning disabilities. Despite this Jack is incredibly busy. From an early age Jack has spoken up for himself & others with regards to disability. He has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity and challenges himself to seemingly impossible tasks.

Having attended special schools and been written off as non academic due to his learning disabilities, Jack fought for the right to go to mainstream college. He worked his way from a Foundation programme with some great support, and now Jack is about to start his second year at Stafford University studying Law having won the prestigious honour of university student of the year.

Jack feels he is a positive example to local authorities who are reluctant to support students with additional needs, proving that with support anything is possible. Jack believes that everyone deserves the chance to live the best quality life that they can and to achieve their full potential without having to battle on a daily basis for their basic rights.

Jack was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours List for his campaigning and fundraising.

Jack has a good sense of humour and believes his communication skills and love of public speaking are his greatest asset. Always giving 100%, he will keep you updated on all newsworthy subjects and `argue and speak on your behalf. He is extremely proud to have been elected and will work very hard on your behalf.
Family and friends representatives

Wendy Burt
Rep Body Co-Chair
Wendy has 2 adult sons who both have a learning disability, her youngest son also has autism.

Wendy graduated from Partners in Policymaking, a leadership course for families and disabled people in 2005. This was a turning point in her life and since then she has tirelessly in a number of ways worked with disabled people and their families to find solutions for the challenges that life throws at them.

Wendy, through her work and her voluntary commitments, supports policymakers and commissioners to ensure the lived experiences of people are heard and influence future provision. Wendy works hard to ensure that everyone has an equal voice around the table.

Wendy loves the term nothing about us without us and strives to make this a reality in all she does.

Sheila Moorcroft
Sheila is the parent of two young people, one a young man with autism and learning difficulties, who lives in a supported living service. Sheila has been active in her local community campaigning on behalf of and supporting people with autism, learning disabilities and their families ever since her son’s diagnosis.

Sheila's career was spent in strategic research helping organisations think about the implications of long term changes in the world around them, and what they could do in response to those changes to meet the needs of people who worked for them or who were their customers.

Her research also included looking at the post-16 education services provision needed for people with physical and/or learning disabilities and /or autism and sensory impairments needed in different regions of the country.

Sheila also often assessed the effectiveness of projects supporting people with disabilities as well as older people.

Her activity in the community included:
• 7 years as chair of a local parent support group where Sheila spent a lot of time campaigning, representing the needs of families and children on local and national committees and consultations to improve services.
• 4 years as Chair of Governors at her son’s special school while it changed from being a general MLD school to focus on supporting children with ASD.
• A great deal of public speaking, such as frequent appearances on the radio and TV, talking at conferences about living with a child with autism and a learning disability and providing autism awareness training for schools and health professionals.

Ivan Olbrechts
(from July 2020)
Ivan’s family name comes from a Flemish refugee, originally evacuated to Kent as a wounded Belgian soldier in WW1. Ivan spent his early years growing up in a post-WW2 prefab in Kent, in the 70’s, raised on free school meals and taught in the “remedial group” in primary school. His upbringing was punctuated by his late mother’s frequent bouts of mental illness and visits to a long-stay psychiatric hospital.

Ivan has worked as a postman, a soldier, a manager of children’s services, and now works for a national health and social care charity that provides services to people with Learning Disabilities, Mental Health and complex needs. With a busy and diverse job, he also attends the All Party Parliamentary Group on Complex Needs and Dual Diagnosis and has academic research interests in a number of areas, especially health inequalities.

Besides his immediate family, Ivan is also a part-time family carer for a relative with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS).

Ivan has a breadth of vocational and personal experience of multi-disciplinary social care, safeguarding and advocacy services, so as a family and friend’s rep, you can talk to him when things are not ok; he will be happy to listen and speak up when needed.

James O’Rourke
(from July 2020)
James is the older brother to Tony who was diagnosed at the age of 5 years with learning disabilities (although they didn’t call it that back then in the 1960’s!). As you would imagine James’ life has been influenced by his brothers learning disability through mutual friends and family and gave him the solid grounding for his professional career.

Since leaving school James has had a wide-ranging career from residential/community social work to sales and marketing; politician to advisory roles for NHSE.

James’ passion is to ensure those with learning disabilities like his brother who have difficulties communicating are heard.
Organisations & Professionals Representatives

Scott Watkin
Rep Body Co-Chair
(re-elected July 2020)
Scott was the Co-Chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board on the Isle of Wight and he chaired the Partnership Board for six years. Scott took on a national role within the Department of Health in May 2009 as the Co-National Director for Learning Disabilities until June 2011.

In July 2011 Scott joined Mencap as a National Learning Disability Consultant. He started his role as SeeAbility eye2eye Ambassador in the summer of 2011 and he took on a permanent role with SeeAbility as an Eye Care and Vision Development Officer from July 2013. In 2019 Scott took on his current role as Head of Engagement at SeeAbility and is now leading a programme of work around the people we support having a bigger voice.

Scott is also Co-Chair of the Transforming Care Assurance Board to help reduce the number of people with learning disabilities staying in hospital and to go back in the community; and is a visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire working with the learning disability nurses.

Scott won the ‘Making a Difference’ award at the National Learning Disabilities Awards in July 2017. Scott was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) on the New Year’s Honours List 30th December 2017.

In 2019, Scott was named on the Shaw Trust Power List as one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.

David Abbey
David Abbey has worked in the financial services sector since 1984 and is a fully qualified Financial Adviser.

Back in 1997, he was invited to join a ‘steering group’ to develop a process to enable people with a disability (who also rely on benefits for their income) to buy a home of their own. The result was a unique Government approved shared ownership model, known as HOLD (Home Ownership for people with Long-term Disabilities).

David then established MySafeHome Limited to provide everyone involved in helping people with disabilities realise their dream of home ownership with the support they need and to date almost 1,300 individuals have used HOLD to buy their own home.

Passionate about the personalisation agenda David is the UK’s subject matter expert in homeownership for people with disabilities and in July 2017 was honoured to be elected to the LDE Representative Body.

Rob Greig
Rob’s career has had a continuing focus on supporting people with disabilities to live full and equal lives in their communities. Having worked in and managed both mental health and learning disability services in South London, he was appointed by the Government as the ‘expert external advisor’ on the development of the 2001 White Paper “Valuing People’.

From 2001 to 2008, he then led the delivery of that White Paper, and the original Valuing People Support Team, as England’s first National Director for Learning Disabilities. During this time he also contributed to various other Government initiatives, including as Vice Chair of the Independent Living Reference Group that support the development of the ‘Life Chance of Disabled People’ policy.

From 2008-2018, he was then the Chief Executive at the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) leading that organisations work on a range of ground breaking initiatives including research into employment supports for people with learning disabilities, the development of best practice materials around commissioning supports for people who challenge and the Preparing for Adulthood initiative as part of the SEND reforms.

From 2015 - 2017 he was a member of the Disability Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He has now retired from paid employment but maintains an active interest in rights and equality. Rob was awarded a CBE for his work with people with learning disabilities and their families in the 2010 New Year’s Honours list.

Tim Keilty
(from July 2020)
Tim has worked with people with a learning disability for 30 years, as a support worker in a village community, as a supporter to a People First group, an advocate, as a Person Centred Planning Co-ordinator and now as a Special Projects Manager. As the years go by the job titles get more cumbersome but the focus of work remains the same!

Tim has also worked on building sites, as a pub manager and as a cleaner – jobs which are as valuable to his experience as jobs in social care.

Tim believes that people themselves, their families, friends and communities have the answers and often just need the time and space to discover them. Tim tries to offer people that space by being a thoughtful facilitator, a canny drawer, and by having a constant desire to keep it all simple.

Tim works for New Prospects Association in North Tyneside, because he wanted to find out (after a lot of training, consulting and advocating) whether it was harder to actually make things happen than tell people how to do it. It is.

Tim is a qualified social worker, but puts more store in the fact that he was once described by Jack Pearpoint (admittedly in an off the cuff comment) as ‘a remarkably gifted leader’.

Tim writes a blog but doesn’t write this very often…Tim has written a book with a colleague, is a Fellow of the Centre for Welfare Reform and always likes to share ideas and work together.