Blog by Gary Bourlet, Membership and Engagement Lead and self advocate
It is over 20 years since Valuing People was published.
For the first time there was a strategy just for people with learning disabilities.
It gave us hope for a new future.
Real progress has already been made.
But I worry there’s still lots to be done.
Especially as over the last few years things have felt much less joined up for people with learning disabilities, their families and the people who support them.
And we have had to experience so much – austerity, a pandemic and now fuel poverty.
I think it’s important that everyone has energy efficient and affordable housing, they don’t have to experience hate crime.
They have better health services, real jobs and real careers with real wages, can advocate for themselves, have the right support, good communication and technology and don’t have to live their lives out in institutions.
When the ‘Good Lives’ framework was being built lots of people with learning disabilities felt that some of these issues were really important to them too.
We have all waited for this for too long.
I think the framework is a really good way to start making these things happen.
What’s so great about it is that it is actually designed by the self-advocates themselves.
Though the work began in 2020, the framework was shared for the first time at this year’s conference in March.
There is now a real buzz in the air and different people and organisations are getting on board with it.
We have been working lots more to tell members and other people about Good Lives.
On the 26th of April, we invited members to join us in an online meeting to share ideas on how to use the framework for change in their area.
Here is a tweet from The Lancashire Friends and Relationships Group that they left us since the meeting.
They endorsed their commitment to Chapter 4 of the framework ‘love to be loved’.
Some other ways that members said they would use the framework in the meeting:
• Working in a more collaborative and co-productive way
• Turning plans into action
• Making reasonable adjustments in their organisation
• Self- advocacy was spoken about a lot e.g. promoting it more amongst people with learning disabilities as well as policy makers etc.
• Spreading the word about the framework amongst their networks
Someone suggested holding a wellbeing café as an opportunity for people with learning disabilities and support staff to ask questions around relationships.
Keyring suggested they might campaign more on housing and people getting their own homes.
Me and Rachael, my fellow Membership and Engagement Lead have also been having smaller online meetings with members to talk to them about work they have been doing that links to Good Lives.
We have also been giving them ideas on how they can get more involved.
Some of the organisations we have spoken to already are ADASS, LGA network, Where I Want to Live and Bestha.
They have all been really eager to bring about action too.
We have also spoken to Bespoke Supportive Tenancies who are going to share with framework with all their housing team.
The Commissioners at Essex County Council are thinking about how some of their work around employment can contribute to the next stage of good lives.
Good Lives belongs to the community.
Small steps matter.
You don’t have to wait – you can take action now!
Are you a member and want to know what you can do to be involved in Good Lives?
Or would you like to speak to me or Rachael about what you have done already?
If so, we would love to hear from you.