Why your right to vote is important – A blog by Gary Bourlet.

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

“It’s great to vote, ‘cause then you get a say on who’s going to be running the country” (Dr Mark Brookes, MBE).

There will be local elections in May and a general election later this year. Every adult in England has the right to vote. But how do we make sure we can? We want to make sure that those of us with learning disabilities are able to use our right to vote.

In the past, there were lots of barriers to voting in our way and some still remain. Practical things like getting to the polling station, understanding how it all works, registering to vote, or using the postal vote.

There are other barriers too, like the need for ID photos to be able to vote.

Mary Woodhall is a rep body member for Learning Disability England. As part of this work, she also represents Learning Disability England members at the Social Care All Party Parliamentary group (APPG) lived experience advisory group.

Mary spoke about Voter ID and other barriers to voting in an article that you can read here. Mary and I share similar experiences of these barriers, and I think lots of people with learning disabilities do too.

There is also the important question of who we want to vote for. What is each political party offering us? Which one will do the best things for the country and especially for those of us who have learning disabilities?

You can read more about how the government works here.

I have talked already about my interview last year with Dr Mark Brookes, MBE – we met up to introduce you all to one of the campaigns that we are involved in.

The campaign is called “My Vote My Voice” and it is really important for us all! You can watch our interview here.

In the video we talk about the My Vote My Voice website. It tells you everything you need to know about how to use your precious right to vote. You can see the website here.

It is important to think about the difference that a political party can make for you as a person with learning disabilities.

The government makes lots of important decisions about policies that affect people with learning disabilities, like housing, health, education, and social care. There are over 1 million people with a learning disability in England. That’s a lot of voices that need to be heard.

It is very important to make sure you use your right to vote so you can help to choose the next government who runs the country. They will be making lots of decisions that will affect people with learning disabilities.

I will be joining some other speakers to talk about some of this at our online conference on 21st February. It is free for Learning Disability England members. Booking closes at 6 PM on Tuesday 20th February. You can book here.

Some Learning Disability England members are working on a Good Lives Manifesto. It will include some policies or actions on topics members agree are most important. I will be talking more about that at the online conference, but you can also watch a video of me speaking about it here.

I would like to see more Learning Disability England members join me and help to build the Good Lives Manifesto. You can read the draft ideas and fill in the Good Lives Manifesto survey here.

We need to keep our profiles visible so that we make sure that the people in politics know who we are and that we are important.  

You can write to your MP and local council to tell them about Good Lives. You can find a template letter and more information to help you here.

Your voice is so important. Together we can make change happen and lead Good Lives. Thank you for reading my blog!