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A Voice for Adults with Learning Disabilities and Autism

Wed 4 Sep 2019

Currently those in Staffordshire with learning disabilities or autism have no method of formally expressing their joint views to the County Council on all the many issues that affect them.  Their most powerful advocates – parents or carers – also have to act as individuals rather than having any forum in which they can discuss issues of concern with the local authority.  Yet the County Council continues to be the most significant single organisation influencing whether this group can make the most of their lives in our local communities.  We want to tackle this deficit.  We are looking for parents or carers who want to make a positive difference.

To create the dialogue that should take place between the authorities and their clients a small group of Parents and Carers is working with Andy Marriott – the Lead Commissioner for Adults with Disabilities - and other key people in the local authority, to set up a new client group.  Our shared intention is to hold regular meetings with officers involved in community care, and subsequently to supplement this with an active social media network.  In this way we want to give a voice to those who want to influence the services of those with a learning disability or autism and want to work with the authority to hold it to account on the scope and quality of its services.  Please come and join us if these issues affect your family.

This lack of a discussion group wasn’t always the case.  Up until a couple of years ago there used to be two linked groups that represented all the interests concerned.  Firstly, the All Age Disability Partnership (formerly the Learning Disability Partnership Board) at which Parents/Carers met with officers from Staffordshire County Council, and related bodies in Health and the Voluntary Sector, to discuss all issues impacting those with a learning disability and autism.  In addition there was a Carers Reference Group that dealt with issues affecting Carers and their families.  Unfortunately, both these groups withered as formerly active members aged, and no fresh members came along to supplement them.

We aren’t looking to re-create this structure precisely, but to provide a vibrant new focus for both Parent/Carers and the County Council.  By working in partnership a productive dialogue can be created which works to the benefit of all parties, but, most of all, for those with a learning disability or autism.  Given the reduced funding of local government at national level, and the policies that Staffordshire County Council have had to adopt in response, now is a crucial time to ensure our opinions can influence the definition of Staffordshire’s services. 

We are looking for parents or carers of those adults who have either a learning disability, or have autism, who have ideas and opinions on the services Staffordshire CC provide, to come to an initial meeting of the new group.

If you are interested in this new initiative, either as someone who wants to attend the meetings, or as someone who wants to input their views online, then please contact me.  You can contact me via email (dave.denison@btinternet.com), or by phone (07876 508330) to discuss your involvement. We will then keep you involved and informed as the new group becomes active, starting in October.