New learning disability self advocacy map will help to connect people and share work
In September 2018, Sunderland People First successfully applied to work with a team of academics at the University of Sheffield on a Crook Fellowship project.
This work has created an interactive map, along with a website, of learning disability self advocacy organisations across England.
The interactive map and website are being launched to ‘go live’ on 3rd December 2020, the International Day of Disabled People.
You can access the website and map here: https://selfadvocacygroups.co.uk/
The project recognised that recent austerity measures have directly affected self-advocacy groups, with many having to close because of lack of funding.
This has had an effect on the areas of people’s lives that are consistently overlooked, such as friendships and relationships and the right to equal and quality healthcare, to name a few.
Local Authorities are frequently taking the decision solely to fund statutory advocacy, this is advocacy that is designed to support people who have mental health issues, need help to make important decisions and secure the rights and services to which people are entitled to.
This means self-advocacy groups are increasingly pushed for resources and don’t have the network available to work with and help each other. Learning disability and autism self-advocates are all on the same team and working towards the same goals.
The interactive map and website will help self advocacy groups to get in touch with each other, share resources and work in partnership on important issues.
Jodie Williams, a self advocate and Director with Sunderland People First and Vice Chair of Learning Disability England’s Board of Trustees said :
“I am passionate about making sure that people with a learning disability and autistic people have a strong voice and have a good life. I have loved working with Sheffield University as part of the Fellowship Project and sharing how self-advocacy groups across the country do amazing work. I hope that this new self-advocacy map will help to connect and support groups to share this work especially during these difficult times. We know that we are stronger together.”
Sheffield University said:
“As part of the 2019 Crook Public Service Fellowship Scheme, established and funded by Professor Anthony Crook CBE, an academic team led by Professors Katherine Runswick-Cole and Daniel Goodley collaborated with Sunderland People First to explore the impact of self-advocacy. Together, they produced research on the current strength of self-advocacy for those with physical and learning disabilities, and the impact of funding cuts on those groups’ ability to operate effectively. The year-long project culminated in a policy report that was jointly authored by Sunderland People First and the academic team. In addition, the academic team provided support and guidance to SPF to produce an interactive mapping tool to chart the location of self-advocacy groups across the UK, enabling those groups to better share resources, experiences and best practice. The academic team continues to support SPF in their work as a lasting legacy of the Fellowship programme.”
One of the key aspects of the project was the key role self advocates with a learning disability played as decision makers and members of the project team. The project was a Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List in 2019 winner in recognition of the value and inclusive nature of the project. The judges said, “The project has really built momentum and has been a great example of effective partnership working.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information