Giving people with learning disabilities a voice is a key priority for members of Brothers of Charity Services.
With this in mind, the organisation, which provides services to people at risk of being marginalised in society, launched user-led advocacy group Voice for All six years ago.
Run by and for people with a learning disability, members speak up for people who use the Brothers of Charity Services in Lancashire and for any other person with a disability across Lancashire.
The Brothers of Charity Services provides person-centred support to people across the Lancashire region to live independently in their own homes.
The services it offers include supported living; residential, nursing and respite care; supporting people with complex health and social needs; dementia support; vocational enterprises and transitional services.
Voice for All works in partnership and meets with lots of different groups of people across Lancashire including Brothers of Charity Services, Lancashire County Council, local health and social care providers and commissioners and advocacy and self-advocacy groups.
John Whitehead, advocacy and communication coordinator for Brother of Charity Services, says: “Voice for All and the Brothers of Charity Services believe that involvement, inclusion and working in partnership with people with a learning disability is a ‘must’ for any provider or commissioner of adult health and social care services.
“Voice for All help people to; be involved in decisions about their life including the support they receive; speak out about issues that are important to them; talk about what is good and bad about learning disability services; promote and stand up for their rights and respons-ibilities; getting involved in local, regional and national projects and campaigns; produce and receive easy-read information, and work with other groups to help improve services and supports.”
Representing more than 250 members, Voice for All’s elected committee meets weekly to listen and talk about important issues. They challenge the things that need to change and improve, champion and promote best practice, and celebrate their successes and achievements.
Becky Gammon, chairman of Voice for All, based at Lisieux Hall in Whittle-le-Woods, says: “Having a voice and speaking up for people with a learning disability are so important. Every voice needs to be heard and I am very happy to speak up on behalf of everyone, and especially those who can’t speak up for themselves. We want our supports and services to be the best they can be and that can only happen when we listen to each other, learn from each other and work together.
“Voice for All is a fantastic advocacy group and we have done some great things in improving people’s lives and the services they receive.
“One of the things I am very passionate about is friendships and relationships and I believe we all should have the chance to have a relationship and fall in love if we want to.
“It was great when the Brothers of Charity Services invited us to write for them a new national policy about ‘Love, Sex and Relationships’ and we have since written an easy read version too.
“We are very proud of this. All our easy read policies, guidelines and information are available on our website.”
John adds: “Working with Voice for All is both a pleasure and a privilege. Every member is so committed and passionate about the work they do and in wanting to make a positive difference and contribution.
[They work so hard and have achieved so much and continue to do so.
“Members are an inspirational and amazing group of people and they have every right to be proud.”
To find out more about Voice for All and the Brothers of Charity Services visit www.brothersofcharity.org.uk/lancashire/about-us/voice-for-all/