Spotlight on Learning Disabilities – Self Advocacy and Success By Gary Bourlet

Gary Bourlet is the Membership and Engagement Lead at Learning Disability England, self-advocate and civil rights campaigner.

On June 21st I had a great time speaking at LDN London’s event with other self-advocates. The event was Spotlight on Learning Disabilities: What Can Success Look Like? I spoke to journalist and author Saba Salman about my experiences of being a self-advocate.

I thought that members of Learning Disability England would be interested to know what we chatted about! So you can read more below.

Self-advocacy is about speaking up for yourself and deciding what it is that you want to do now and in the future. You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. It takes time to become confident.   

You can visit self-advocacy groups and learn from them. I went to America and Canada and learned from the self-advocates overseas.  Going to conferences and meeting other self-advocates is important.   

I am proud of connecting lots of people with learning disabilities and autistic people.  I needed determination to succeed – like when I wrote over 400 hand-written letters to get an organisation started!  You will need determination to but there is lots of support to help you succeed.

Saba and I talked about what a new government could do to help people with learning disabilities and autistic people live Good Lives. I talked about the Good Lives Manifesto. To succeed and live well, people with learning disabilities need the same opportunities in life as non-disabled people.

In the future I would love to see a worldwide organisation of self-advocates that can help and support developing countries to achieve self-advocacy in the way we have in the West. 

We need to build up our network around the world and continue being stronger, louder together!