Learning Disability England Annual Conference 2021

Thank you to everyone who took part in the 2021 conference, One Year On: Staying Strong, Getting Stronger.


“OMG! That was AMAZING. Like at a club with a gifted disco DJ, we were carried along to a banging crescendo.

I am so fired up now. And excited.

Lord knows how many hours you have all put in, but each one was worth two more – such a great experience, platform and community.” 

Family member


You can see the photo gallery from the conference here (coming shortly)


The conference hashtag on social media for this year’s conference was #LDEGettingStronger.

You can use this hashtag to find out what people were sharing during the conference.


“I had the best time ever – I learnt a lot of stuff thank you”



This year’s conference focused on members and partners sharing examples what they have learnt and how they are working in creative and inclusive ways: 


  • How we as a community can stay strong through the rest of this pandemic
  • How we continue to get stronger as the country comes out of it
  • How we will work together to not let the inequalities continue unchallenged or unchanged

“Really engaging and lots of energy in the zoom room.”

Organisational member


“What a fabulous day! Thank you for inviting me to join you and all the brilliant presenters to share my/our experience, it really was a privilege! 

Love the zoom poll feature too – you made great use of technology to bring everyone together whilst staying physically apart and just how amazing to see so many self advocates mastering zoom!

That was a great Day1, looking forward to the rest of the conference.”

Conference speaker


Here is some information about all the sessions. 

You can also find the slides and recordings from session 1 that was open to everyone.

You can get the recording and slides from the other members-only sessions by emailing us at info@ldengland.org.uk if you are a member. 


Session 1:  ‘One Year On: Our experiences and stories from the last year’

People shared their experiences from the last year and key messages for us to build on as a community in staying strong and getting stronger.

The speakers included self advocates, paid supporters, family members and partners or allies.

See the recording from the session and slides from the presentations here:

View the session recording here

View the session PowerPoints here


Session 2:   ‘Made Possible: stories of success by people with learning disabilities – in their own words’

A conversation between the book’s editor Saba Salman and two contributors, athlete and fitness coach Dan Pepper and self-advocate and Learning Disability England co-founder Gary Bourlet.

Then the ProActive community group members shared their film on changes, new skills and hope. They asked us all to think about what we will do to build on what we have learnt.

Speakers from the group included Elizabeth Wheeler, Michael Mclaughlin, Leanne Yeo, Peter Martin and Alix Lewer.

Session 3:   ‘So… what’s Changed?’

This session focused on what organisations and systems can do to be accountable and really learn from what goes wrong.

Fiona Ritchie presented and shared her ideas on what we can learn from the past year.

Local Area Coordination Network members shared stories of system change with Nick Sinclair from the LAC network.

Session 4:   ‘Being seen, being heard’

Jonathan, Shaun and Lorna from Open Story Tellers shared how telling our stories makes us stronger and how important it is to be your own authentic self instead of what other people say you should be like.

They also explained how having a life story helps others understand you if you can’t tell them.

Session 5:   ‘The Human Rights Act now and next – why it matters for us all’

Sanchita Hosali from The British Institute of Human Rights explained more about their Human Rights Act campaign and how members can be involved through social media and more.

This session focused on human rights and learning disabilities, using real life examples.

Session 6:   ‘Getting stronger – next steps’

The last session of the conference focused on 3 areas we know are important to Learning Disability England members:

  • Housing choices
  • Self advocacy being strong
  • Social Care in the future

Scott Watkin and Anna Severight shared some of the Social Care Futures work and the inquiry

Mark Conquer from Ace Anglia, Shaun Pickern and Liz Tilly from the Open University shared the Filling the Gaps research on self advocacy through last year

Ian Copeman from Housing LIN shared what we found from the Big Housing conversations in 2020.

The session also looked at what the impact of Coronavirus on people with learning disabilities research early findings has told us; and members worked together on what is important to do next.


“You all did an amazing job, I expected it to be good but I was so impressed!”

Organisational member

Learning Disability England is England’s only national movement where people with learning disabilities, families, friends and people that work in services come together on an equal basis to work for people with learning disabilities having good lives with equal choices and opportunities as others.

Membership starts from only £12 a year for individuals.

Find out more and join today!


If you have any questions, please contact us by email on info@LDEngland.org.uk   or phone us on 0300 111 0444.