People with learning disabilities feel like they have been “consulted to death” but the Equality 2025 initiative could at last mean they are listened to, a conference heard this week.
Disability activist Fiona Wallace told the People First annual meeting in Loughborough at the weekend that as a member of Equality 2025 she and other disabled people now had a real chance to shape decisions.
She said she had high hopes that the new group would help people with learning disabilities tackle the barriers they met from the day they were born, including from social care professionals.
“I think most of us here know what inequality looks like…. We are wrapped up in cotton wool and not allowed to decide things for ourselves.”
Wallace won support from the audience when she claimed special schools set people on a course for underachieving.
“I kept getting told “You can’t do that” so I started to believe it myself. ..It has been hard work undoing all the damage to my confidence that was done at school and since.”
But she added that becoming a member of the Equality 2025 group had helped her turn her life around and feel fully involved.
She also said her role on the board of directors of People First (Scotland) had boosted her confidence as had moving to her own flat.
“In all of these examples my choices are respected. I am listened to and feel valued. I have the support I need and have chosen my own supporters…… This should be normal for all people.”
Wallace said that she believed this could be achieved by 2025, and equality could be measured by looking at whether people got the support they needed when they needed it.
“For example can we get support if we are going to a party? Can we stay as long as we want, or do we have to go when the staff say the shift is changing? Do we have friendships and relationships. Are we able to start a family and can we get the support we need to raise our children?”
She added that the 2025 group was seeking views from people with learning disabilities.