How the Good Lives Manifesto 2024 came about and how you can support it – a blog by Gary Bourlet

Gary Bourlet, Self-Advocate & Membership and Engagement Lead for Learning Disability England

For the past 40 years, myself and other self-advocates have been campaigning hard for the rights of all of those of us with learning disabilities.

Since Valuing People stopped over 10 years ago, there hasn’t been a cross-government policy to help people with learning disabilities have good lives. The Good Lives framework is designed to address this.

And, there has not been enough action taken by UK governments to meet their commitment to disabled people’s rights under the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). You can read more on that here.

Recently, Dimensions did a survey and 82% of people with learning disabilities feel less listened to by the government than other groups.

Over 400 members of Learning Disability England came together from across individual, self-advocate, and organisational membership groups to coproduce the Good Lives Manifesto 2024. You can read it here.

The Good Lives Manifesto 2024 lays out important changes that people with learning disabilities, family members, and the people who work with them would like to see in the next government.

The framework for the Manifesto began in February 2020 in Birmingham.  It started by looking at the 6 chapters of the Good Lives framework and built on it. 

A working group of Learning Disability England members came together and did lots of thinking.  Then all members were invited to answer a survey that would share their priorities and campaigns to tell us what was important.   

At the Learning Disability England conferences in February 2024, lots of members took part in focus groups and discussions to talk about what should be included. 

I would like to make sure everyone hears about the Manifesto and I hope that together we can all be a strong voice for change.

There are different ways you can take action using the manifesto:

  1. You can share it with the candidates standing to be your local MP to let them know what is important to people with learning disabilities.
    You can find candidates standing by looking at local party websites. Once the election is called candidates will all be on the Council website.
  1. You can write an email to your current MP by using the template letter to help you here.
  1. You can look on your current MP’s website to see when they have their surgeries.  A surgery is when the MP holds a local meeting where they can meet with their constituents (all the people who live in the area that they look after). 
  1. You can go to a hustings.  A hustings is a meeting set up so political candidates can to talk to voters and find out what is important to them. 

People standing for election and the political parties they are part of need to know what members want them to do with the manifesto –

  1. They need to pledge their support for the Manifesto. Take a pledge card to your meeting. It would be great to see photos of you with local candidates and the Manifesto pledge card on social media!
  2. Ask them to send the Manifesto back to their political party and pledge their support for it.

You can also share the Manifesto with all your family and friends to ask them to share it with their local candidates or current MPs (even if it is the same MP, the more people who go the better). 

Let’s help things change for the better!  Remember, we are all stronger and louder together!