People with learning difficulties plan to go direct to Tony
Blair in Downing Street to deliver a message from their own
conference on the Valuing People white paper.
The decision was made at a four-day event in Nottingham staged
by Central England People First, to allow people with learning
difficulties to voice their opinions about the learning difficulty
Delegates decided to write a letter explaining their views about
the white paper and hand deliver it to 10 Downing Street.
One of the strongest messages to come out of last week’s
conference was that many of those taking part liked the ideas in
Valuing People, but were worried that they would not be
put into practice.
They also believed the government needs to provide more money to
pay for the changes.
Jason Chadburn, of Sheffield Speaking Up For Action, told the
conference: “It shows that the government is starting to listen to
what people with learning difficulties have to say.
“I think this is just a start. I think a lot of work needs to be
done to make sure the white paper is not just words.”
But Tim Spiers, from Torfaen, in Wales, said he believed the
government should have put more money into the measures outlined in
the white paper. “This £50 million is not enough. It should be
twice that. My day centre had a fire and it cost £1-£2
million to rebuild it.”
About 150 individuals and members of self-advocacy groups from
across England and Wales attended the conference. Only people with
learning difficulties and their supporters were allowed to take
part. Karen Spencer, who helped organise the event, said: “It has
been a lot more successful than I thought it would be. The
government should be listening to people with learning
difficulties. Doing this conference has made a lot of people aware
of what rights we do have.”
Nicola Ballard, of People First Southport, added: “Once you have
done a conference, you can do another one and another one and
“I have come here for confidence and I have come here for
information as well, so I can go and report it back.”