Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Speaking Up project needs young disabled people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough!

After a fantastic first year in Cambridgeshire, Speaking Up's integrate project is expanding into Peterborough - and is looking for young people with learning disabilities who would like to take part!

Pictured: last year's Integrate members

We're on the lookout for people with learning disabilities aged 16 - 25 who want to get involved in the project - taking part in fun social activities before running fun and informative workshops to increase awareness and understanding of issues faced by young people with learning disabilities.

Last year, young people with disabilities, together with non-disabled buddies, created a great dvd which highlighted the issues faced by young disabled people - one disabled young person on the project said:

"It's not just about planning and making [the dvd], but also it improves other's lives around us, for them not to judge us about how we are but to treat us as equals"

Pictured: Proud Integrate members Robert and Chris with their dvds!

The young people on the project then took the dvd on tour, visiting youth clubs and mainstream schools to screen their film. The film went down really well, with most young people in the audience saying that it had changed their perception of young people with learning disabilities.

"It was a very good dvd - I learnt quite a lot and it was interesting to find out about people with disabilities"

"I liked the video because it showed that disabled people can work"

(both quotes from female students aged 12 who attended a workshop)

If you, or somebody you know, are aged 16 - 25 with a learning disability who would like to get involved in the project - get in touch! Vicky works on the Integrate project, and would love to hear from you. You can contact her on vicky.tyas@speakingup.org or 01223 555842

Click here to check out Integrate's facebook group!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Speaking Up at Learning Disability Today exhibition in Manchester

Personal Budgets are a method of self-directed support. Rather than a care plan and support being decided upon and paid for by the council, people with learning disabilities will be given a sum of money - a Personal Budget - and will have control over the activities and support they choose to spend it on.

Personal Budgets are a massive topic at the moment, and their introduction will affect the way that Speaking Up works hugely. We don't simply want to be affected by Personal Budgets though - we want to support our service users and other people with learning disabilities to understand the complex concepts and processes that they will have to deal with when they're given one.

To help increase people's understanding of Personal Budgets, our Consultancy and Training Co-ordinator Melanie Findlater has been working with Rod, Kerry and Sarah (who all have learning difficulties) to creat a fun and accessible board game on Personal Budgets. 'My Life, My Budget' is still in development, and will feature a range of steps which introduce people with learning disabilities to Personal Budgets This includes the sorts of activities they might wish to take part in, the support they will need to do so, the relative costs of each activity & associated transport costs, and also covers the concept of making choices - something many people with learning difficulties may not yet have experienced much.
Pictured: Rod and Ames playing 'My Life, My Budget'

We went to the LD Today exhibition in Manchester to show the game to people with learning disabilities and a range of professionals in the field, and to ask them what they thought about it. With around 2,000 guests, it was a great place to be for feedback! We had a fantastic day, got some great ideas to make the game even better, and are now really looking forward to launching the game!

Pictured: Mel discussing the game with guests at LD Today

There are lots more photos of us at the event on Flickr! For more information about 'My Life, My Budget', contact Mel on melanie.findlater@speakingup.org

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Young People Next Steps launches is Lincolnshire!

Our Lincoln team held a fantastic event last week to celebrate the launch of their Next Steps project. Next Steps is a project which supports people to develop the confidence, work skills, and life skills they need to live an active life in their community. This is a brand new project for Lincolnshire, and they're working with a brand new client group - in all other areas Next Steps works with adults and young people with learning disabilities, but in Lincolnshire alone we'll be working with youth offenders and young people at risk of offending.

Pictured: Next Steps members Dan and Lottie with the gecko!
The day was a great success, bringing together young people already on our projects in the area, a range of professionals from relevant organisations, and young people interested in joining the project. The professionals who attended the day included people from LEAP, Birchwood Youth Centre, Lincolnshire Police and the Youth Offending Service.

The day featured DJ workshops with local DJ tutor Eddy Menzel,  which was great fun. We also had a reptile workshop which was going to feature a gecko, tarantula and a snake... however, the tarantula was a bit mardy so stayed in his tank, and the snake had just eaten so they left him at home in case he decided that one of us could be pudding! Thankfully, the gecko was a great hit and made up for the lack of other reptiles!
The event was a great chance for young people and professionals to learn more about Next Steps from our project workers, and a lot of professionals were really keen to get us running workshops with the young people they work with who are caught up in the Criminal Justice System or have been identified as at a risk of offending.

We had a fantastic (but very tiring!) day, and are really looking forward to working with some of these young people in the next few weeks.

If you'd like to know any more about the Next Steps project in Lincolnshire, contact Project Worker Shell on shell.arliss@speakingup.org or 01522 706 584.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Speaking Up stages Changing Places Demonstration!

Speaking Up's Cambridgeshire Parliament recently held a demonstration regarding the lack of Changing Places toilets in Cambridge.

Pictured: Volunteers from Speaking Up and Scope at the demonstration, with our High Support Needs Committee pictured on the right of the front row

Changing Places toilets are different from standard accessible toilets and include an adjustable changing bench and a hoist to allow people with high support needs to use the toilets with assistance, or to have their incontinence pads changed. Recent research by Mencap has found that nearly a quarter of a million disabled people in the UK are being denied access to these much needed facilities - forcing them to be changed on dirty toilet floors by their carers, or forcing them to stay at home. There are only 85 of these fully accessible toilets in the UK, and the nearest one to Cambridge is in Peterborough!

Simon, Christian and Susanna make up the Parliament's High Support Needs Committee. They identified the lack of Changing Places toilets as a massive issue for themselves and their peers, and so set about organising the demonstration.

Loads of volunteers came to help out at the demonstration outside the Guildhall in Cambridge, getting people to sign the petition and write to their MPs. We were really pleased with the response from the public - almost everybody we spoke to was really keen to get on board and get things changed!

After the demonstration, Susanna and Christian took the petitions down the the Houses of Parliament to raise the issue with MPs nationally. Ian Austin, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government addressed everyone about the importance of Changing Places, and we met many other supporters of the campaign. We also met Dame Tami Grey Thompson!

Pictured: High Support Needs Committee member Susanna with Dame Tami Grey Thompson

We also made it onto the local news, with Anglia News covering the campaign and visiting High Support Needs Committee member Simon in his home to show what a difference more of these facilities would make.

If you would like any more information on the campaign or our Parliament and High Support Needs Committee, please feel free to get in touch with Project Leader Kirsten on kirsten.green@speakingup.org