There are a lot of things that could improve the lives of people with learning difficulties but one thing I would like to see is for partnership boards to have more power so people with learning difficulties can challenge the government.
I’m co-chair of our board in Norfolk so I can stick up for people with learning difficulties. We have raised the issue of benefits and how if you get a job and you are paid more than £20 a week they stop your money – that’s wrong.
I have known a lot of people who are kept in day centres when they would rather be working. The government should do more to help people with learning difficulties get jobs. I would like to meet a government minister and talk about this.
Another issue is housing. Many people want to get their own place. I have my own rented one-bedroom flat in Norwich. I live there with my cat Molly. I used to live with my mum and dad but they’re dead now. I would like to buy my flat – maybe shared ownership with a housing association. It would give me more control of my affairs. But there are many hurdles. My uncle is not very keen. He helps me with my money. In future, I would like to control my own money.
Direct payments are a really good thing. I went to a conference in Newcastle and saw a presentation by New Dimensions and decided I wanted them to support me. Because I was on direct payments, that meant I could change over to them and do more things than I did before. I need someone to help me do things such as preparing vegetables as I can only use one arm.
I get 21 hours a week support although I would like more because I could do social things like watch my football team Norwich City. My dream is to get married but I need to have a bit of a makeover first – new clothes and a haircut so I look better.
I used to meet women at the day centre I went to. But once when I came out of hospital, the day centre said they didn’t have a place for me any more, even though I’d been going for 24 years. I was sorry about that because it was a good way of meeting people.
Peter Moule is a member of People First Norfolk a self advocacy organisation run by people with learning difficulties for people with learning difficulties. Its mission is for all adults with learning difficulties in Norfolk to be confident self-advocates, making their own decisions with support from people they trust.