Joanne’s Voting Blog.
Why Voting Is Important To Me
Last week I went to the polling station with my dad and sister to vote in the local election.
We looked at all of the people we could vote for and I chose the one I liked best.
It is important to vote to have a choice.
Voting made me feel important and happy but it was quiet and there were not many people there.
My vote is important so I can choose the person I think will be best to help me and people with learning disabilities.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk about my experience of being a mom of 3 children (young adults) with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
I was asked to tell my story at the Transforming Children’s Lives event in Dudley on Friday 20th April.
I must admit I was terrified because I had never spoken in front of that many people before (approximately 150) but I wanted to get some of my experiences and views heard.
I was interviewed on stage by Claire from Dudley Voices for Choice and had 15 minutes to tell our families story, where I think services have got things right or wrong, and how important it is for different organisations to work together with families.
I talked about some of my family’s history and how I have had to fight for support while my children were little and since they have approached adulthood.
My family reached crisis point a year ago and although I was in a bad place I was lucky enough to have contacts at DY1 building as one of my children is a trainee at Lunch on the Run, which has been a real support network for me.
I knew Sarah from DVC, who are also based at DY1. One day last year, Sarah witnessed one of my lads have one of his worst meltdowns ever. This led to Sarah signposting me to Nicky Burrows from Children’s Services at Dudley CVS who was able in turn to signpost me to many services including people from Phase Trust, education and housing services who have now been able to find us alternative housing following being subjected to antisocial behaviour at our last property.
This experience made me feel amazing, in fact…liberated. I surprised myself that I had the courage to speak to a room of people from services that can potentially make a difference to other children’s and families lives in the future. I really hope that the people there heard what I was saying and continue to listen to other parents because we, as parents, know more about our children than any other person or “professionals”.
When a family is crying out for help they need to be listened to immediately. One thing I’d like people to take away from what I said and improve is that services need to react quicker if they are to make an impact on families lives and to prevent a crisis from occurring in the first place.
Also, families need to be treated as a family…as a unit, not individuals. Yes, people within that family may need separate services and treatment but people must remember we are families. This is our lives. Things don’t go away for us, ever.
Life is much better for us now, but we are not suddenly ok. We are still seeking support due to “criteria” based brackets, particularly age related or time restricted provision which should be offered in a more individual way.
My support network at the moment is Lunch on the Run and Dudley Voices for Choice, both adult services for my 17-year-old boys and this has been the case for a few years. The Crestwood School has also been a massive support to both me and my boys.
One last point I would like to make is when a family is in need of help and come to one service, don’t just leave it at that one service if you can see we would benefit from other services, refer us or sign post us in the right direction – don’t just open 1 door, open them all!
There is still a lot I would like to say to people, some things were not appropriate for this event, but I would like to have this sort of chance again to speak to people about other things.
But it was a start.
I already feel better in myself for speaking up in front of so many people from different organisations and talking to people after it who said they found it really helpful and made them think what they can do to keep improving things.
By Diane Williams
It’s not often I get so frustrated that I feel the need to vent via a blog. However, this one needs sharing. Anybody who knows me personally will know that my greatest passion is communication and the variety of ways we communicate, as humans, to share our thoughts, wishes, wants and desires to others. I very much believe that if you communicate with a person in whichever way they are able to or choose, then most things can be achieved or at least attempted.
For the past eight years as a worker for a self-advocacy group I have been able to share my passion with a wide audience and hope that during this time I have empowered people to share their thoughts, dreams and needs with others.
So that leads me nicely to my frustration …… after nine years of working with the most amazing people and sharing the ideals necessary to communicate well, why am I still having the same conversation I was having in 2010!?
Communication is not just talking! It’s listening, it’s understanding, it’s body language, sign language, pecs and a whole lot more. It is also about how we share information. We are constantly asked our opinions on matters that will shape and design future services, whether that is a rise in travel costs, what we think about our local library or what our hospitals should provide, we are asked. Most of the time it is by an internet survey, paper-based questionnaire or if you’re lucky …… with a human with a pen!
I work alongside people with learning disabilities and people with autism and adapt information to meet individual needs on a minute by minute basis. So why is it that whenever people’s opinions are gathered and consulted on do others not consider that there may be more than one way to share and communicate with people and that those said people may need information in a way that suits their needs even when it does not meet an organisations data requirement?
The Accessible Information Standard was approved and states ‘any organisation that provides NHS or adult social care must follow the accessible information standard by law’. (NHS England) This was from 31.07. 2016.
If you give people information in a way that they can understand then they will respond. By not providing easy read, large print, audio and other formats you are excluding groups of society that may well have the real answer to what you are trying to find out.
Today I was asked to provide a specification on what good easy read information looks like …. This is my response, good easy read is clear, understandable and most importantly meets the needs of the person who is using it!
Everyone has different needs and takes information in different ways. If we want engagement and consultation to be real and meaningful to both the person who requires the expertise of the participant and the person who is taking part, then should it not be a given that it will be done in a way that they can understand? It’s like asking for a specification on how the whole team want their cup of tea and only picking one way to do it! I know that in our team there are at least five differing tastes, and if you gave me the wrong one I wouldn’t thank you for it!
So, here’s my plea.
Firstly, can everyone who is looking to use alternate formats ask how this should be done and how people would like it? Sounds simple doesn’t it? It will save you all a great deal of time in the long run whilst empowering the person to be a part of whatever it is you are offering or asking.
Secondly please click on the link below. This information is for YOU! It is everybody’s business to understand and everyone’s responsibility to make sure it happens.
by Sarah Offley
Dreams Can Come True by Sarah Offley
On Saturday 22nd July, I had the pleasure of going with a group called ‘Access in Dudley’ to Blackpool. You may wonder why I am sharing this on our blog? Here’s why…we went to make a gentleman’s life dream become a reality.
A little bit about this amazing gent! John is an extremely talented man that plays the organ and can pretty much replicate any piece of music he hears.
John volunteers for Access in Dudley as well as Dudley Voices for Choice and was introduced by his fellow housemate Del. John had mentioned on several occasions that his dream would be to play the Wurlitzer at Blackpool Tower.
The group decided to raise money to make John’s dream come true.
John had no idea what we were up to as we told him we were going to meet another group in Preston! When we stopped at the services, John was told that the group had cancelled and booked us afternoon tea at Blackpool tower.
John was excited to hear the Wurlitzer and was overwhelmed when he got to meet his hero who has played the Wurlitzer for years! We spent the afternoon watching the dancing, eating cake, drinking tea and waiting in anticipation for John’s turn.
At 5pm John was called to the front and told his dreams were coming true. John then spent the next hour playing every song he could recollect from memory (did I mention that John is blind and has no sight at all?) he even got the opportunity to have the stage lowered and rise from below the stage whilst playing ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’.
It was an emotional time for us all and most of us shed a tear. The experience was something that John had always wanted to do and will never forget and I think everyone who was there will always remember.
Hi! A big welcome from all of us at Dudley Voices for Choice.
This is our very first ever blog!
We are a self-advocacy charity for adults who have a learning disability and / or autism.
We have 5 paid members of staff, trustees, volunteers and members.
All of us will be blogging from time to time to keep you up to date on what we have been up to, different topics and issues that affect us.
Some of the blogs may be serious but hopefully most of them fun!
We hope you will enjoy reading our blogs, and follow us on our journey.