Sixty second interview with Jo Williams
By Amy Taylor and Clare Jerrom
Jo Williams is the chief executive of Mencap and last week was voted by our readers as the most influential person in the social care sector.
How do you feel to be voted the most influential person in social care by readers of Community Care and visitors to www.communitycare.co.uk ?
Surprised, delighted and deeply honoured.
Did you expect to receive so many votes?
I certainly didn’t – that was a surprise. It really gives me a great opportunity – it underwrites my platform for promoting learning disability.
Why do you think you topped the poll?
It’s very difficult to say. Perhaps because I am a consummate networker. And I have been around for a long time!
What have been your highlights during your career in social care?
There have been three. Firstly directly helping people with a learning disability to move from institutions into the community, secondly being president of the Association of Directors of Social Services and thirdly being appointed to Mencap.
Do you have tips for other campaigners who may feel frustrated when fighting for their causes?
You do need to be tenacious and very focussed, continually drip-feeding the same message. It’s also about building alliances and building a good team around you.
Have you any concerns about the progress made against Valuing People?
The needs of people with profound and multiple disabilities are being marginalised. This needs to be addressed. However I am delighted that the Valuing People team are focussing on employment as this really is a key issue.
How do you counter criticism that Mencap is an organisation representing parents and carers rather than service users?
That is a misconception. We are an organisation that works with people with a learning disability AND their families and carers. It is ‘and’ not ‘or’ in our case.
What are your plans for Mencap during the forthcoming year?
We will be putting an emphasis on employment through our WorkRight programme and also focusing on the needs of people with profound and multiple disabilities. I aim to really increase public awareness of learning disability, promoting positive images of people with a learning disability, focussing on the ability not the disability through initiatives like our Snap! photo competition.