Self Advocacy is part of the answer

Self-advocacy is part of the answer – Blog by Gary Bourlet

We have been saying for too long never again for 10 and 20 years by different political parties. Policies are no good if they are implemented.

There are laws implemented against Racism, sexism and homophobic, but not against disablism from my experience.
We do not need words, we need action.

We need to bring the abusers to court and punishment must fit the crime.

No more institutions in any name.

I am still concerned about the future of Self-advocacy, this isn’t just a UK problem, it is a worldwide problem.
We need self-advocacy to help tackle big challenges in society like
– An increase in Hate and Mate Crime since Brexit.
– People’s Benefits being Cut,
– People living in Residential Homes getting abuse and staff getting away with minimal sentences,
– Assessment treatment Units not closing as quickly as we want.

My next steps:

Making LDE a success and building a capacity so we can do and achieve more.
I am asking people to get involved in Learning Disability Pride and do Events.
I want to Create more television programmes, not by me, but by the other members of LDE, more people with learning disabilities on TV, Drama and films etc.
Help share how funding for Self-Advocacy groups is working.
Get People with learning disabilities with families elected as MP’s as we want to change laws. Get people with learning disabilities and their families into the house of lords,
Doing a Magna Carta for people with learning disabilities and families.
Work with other Disability Organisations, not just learning disability ones.
Having our own Radio Station.

My history with self-advocacy

I have been in the Self-Advocacy movement for over 30 years and I am founder of People First Movement in the UK when it began in September 1984. I am a campaigner for people with learning difficulties, civil disability and human rights. I actively support the rights of people with learning difficulties and promote change.
I have been in the Self-Advocacy movement for over 30 years and I am founder of People First Movement in the UK when it began in September 1984. I am a campaigner for people with learning difficulties, civil disability and human rights. I actively support the rights of people with learning difficulties and promote change.
It first began in 1982 when I met John Hersov who was working for MENCAP at the time. All the people with learning difficulties who came along, and there were a lot of us, came from day centres. We met in the attic of the headquarters of MENCAP in London. We all had a chance to speak freely without getting into trouble. Why? Because people with learning difficulties were scared. Service providers, parents and carers had a lot of POWER! The issues were mainly about the day centres. All of us were angry and upset with the running of our day centre. John Hersov supported all of us and to this day we keep in contact with one another.
My first ever speeches were about “dull food makes dull minds” and “who makes the rules”. My dad helped me with my speech on who makes the rules, but he did not get to hear me speak, as he passed away before this happened. I can tell you I was nervous at that time especially as the dinner ladies from my day centre were present when I did my speech on “Dull Food makes Dull Minds”
We needed a Jamie Oliver at that time!
In 1983 I spoke in front of 200 people at the Greater London Council (GLC). I was nervous, but all I could do was to be myself. I had my speech written for me in my own words. My Mum was in the audience to hear me speak. The guest speaker who I think I put to shame was Red Ken Livingstone. There were other Self-Advocates speaking for the first time.
In 1984, I went to America, I’ve never been before.
I stayed and learned a lot about Self-Advocacy in Pudjet Sound, Seattle for 5 days. This was the first international People First Conference. The other countries who attended were Australia and New Zealand. My head was spinning with ideas to take back to the UK. I was so impressed about the development of Self-Advocacy in America.