Back in 2001, some two decades ago, the first white paper that had been written in 30 years about people with learning disabilities was released by the government. Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability in the 21st Century, promised widespread reform. At face value, its suggestions were to be welcomed – even if they were somewhat overdue.
The reform was centred around four key principles: rights, independence, choice and inclusion. In addition, the paper highlighted some of the many challenges faced by those with a learning disability. These included poorly coordinated service provision; too little support for carers; a lack of control and choice for people; limited housing and employment opportunities; and inconsistencies in expenditure and service delivery.
At Talkback, we’re forever focused on improving the lives of people with learning disabilities. And we’ll never stop. So, we’ve spent a lot of time over the last year systematically reviewing the 2001 paper. Because we want to see what exactly has changed. And whilst that has taken many hours to do, the same cannot be said for the time it has taken to make the following conclusion on what’s actually changed. Because it’s more or less nothing.
Things must change
This simply cannot be allowed to go on. So, we’re launching a new campaign, 20 years of Neglect. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing numerous examples of the promises that were made and how they haven’t been fulfilled. Our aim is to raise awareness of just what those with learning disabilities have to put up with and ensure that real and meaningful change happens from this point forward.
Whilst it wasn’t in our plan, our timing is good. In August 2021, our present government published The National Disability Strategy. It was heralded by the Prime Minister as “the most far-reaching endeavour in this area for a generation or more. Not merely a set of worthy aspirations, but a concrete plan for the future.” Admirable words, but mere platitudes won’t do anymore. We want to make sure that action happens. And we need your help. We need everyone’s help.
Please follow our social media channels
If you don’t currently follow us across our social media channels, please do. We need your help in raising awareness and spreading our message far and wide. We want to start a movement; one that helps drive change. Because every single person we reach is another person who might be able to play their part in embed proper change. You can find all the links to our channels here.
Please, wherever possible, use our hashtag #20yearsofneglect. We’d also like to encourage people with experience to get involved. If you have stories or examples of what the reality of living with a learning disability is like in the 21stCentury then please share them with us, either privately or on social media, tagging us in and using the hashtag.
Because we are simply not prepared to wait another moment to change the lives of those with learning disabilities for the better. Let alone another 20 years.