The Department of Health has appointed Scott Watkin, a Special Olympics athlete, to champion people with learning disabilities. Watkin has been made co-national director for learning disabilities and succeeds Nicola Smith in the role.
Watkin has won medals for the 200 metres and standing long jump at the Special Olympics and was previously chair of the Isle of Wight learning disability partnership board.
He played a key role in restructuring the board in anticipation of Valuing People Now. The final Valuing People Now strategy was published in January.
Watkin’s remit will be to represent the views of people with learning disabilities and speak on behalf of government to people and organisations representing service users and carers. He will work alongside national director for learning disabilities Anne Williams.
Valuing People Now challenges
He said: “I am looking forward to being part of the team, and the new challenges ahead in delivering Valuing People Now. I hope that we can make the lives of people with a learning disability change for the better.”
The DH said Watkin would involved with the government’s new learning disability programme board, set up to co-ordinate delivery of Valuing People Now, and take a lead in its policy of developing strong and effective advocacy services.
Care services minister Phil Hope said: “Scott’s skills and experience will be a great asset to the department and with help we will make sure that people with learning disabilities have a strong voice to influence policymaking at senior government level.”
The DH said Nicola Smith, its first co-national director, made an “excellent contribution” to implementing the Valuing People agenda – the precursor to Valuing People Now – and raised the profile of issues for people with learning disabilities nationally.
Mencap’s Mark Goldring: Valuing People Now for people with learning disabilities