Grassroots charity promoting the right for people with learning disabilities to have a choice about how they live their lives

Campaigning workshops – a resource to help make change happen

12
Jun
2017

At last year’s Learning Disability England conference we were asked to run campaigning workshops looking at practical ways to make positive changes in the lives of the people we support. It’s tempting, and easy, to blame the constant pressures of funding cuts as being the reason why we can’t support people to lead great lives (coupled with other ‘reasons’ such as health and safety, human resources rules and contracts – things which we often hear).

The focus of the workshops was to enable participants to come up with practical first steps to making change happen.

To help our thinking we created a ‘Campaigning worksheet’ which asked 4 questions for us all to think about.

  1. What we want

  2. Who do we need to speak with to make this happen?

  3. How are we going to speak with them? (The tactics and methods we could use)

  4. How can well tell our campaigning for change has worked?

Campaigning workshops resource

You can download a blank version of the worksheet below -

Campaigning workshops

Ideas for practical campaigns

From the workshops there were some great ideas for things that needed changing and you can download the full write-up from the workshops here.

Here’s some examples of what came out:

What we want

‘Susan’ to go to Wembley to watch Peterborough United play Chesterfield in the Johnston’s Cup.

Who do we need to speak with to make this happen?

  • The support staff.
  • ‘Susan’ to see if there’s ways in which she could save up enough money. For example you could save £3 at every local game by not buying a programme.

How are we going to speak with them?

  • Have a meeting with everyone involved.

How can we tell it’s worked?

  • ‘Susan’ will have got to see her beloved ‘Posh’ (Peterborough United) play at Wembley.
  • We also discussed the very specific nature of this dream. It was about a game that happened and that she didn’t get to see. Obvioulsy Peterborough United playing at Wembley in a cup final doesn't happen every year so this also highlighted the need to be as spontaneous when a great opportunity presents itself. (It’s no good saying “let’s save up for next year. It probably won't happen!).
  • And if it’s about going to Wembley why not save up to watch England play?

What we want

To change the narrative about the people that we support to a positive one

Who do we need to speak with to make this happen?

  • The press, local papers, social media, local communities, the chamber of commerce

How are we going to speak with them?

  • Showing short positive clips about people.
  • Talking to community groups.
  • Social media campaigns,
  • Information stalls.
  • Having positive stories from staff with their outlook on their role.

How can we tell it’s worked?

  • Seeing positive videos and stories being shared.
  • More people applying for jobs as support workers.
  • People appreciating that we work with, and meet, amazing people.

What we want

Individual choice, and our rights respected.

Who do we need to speak with to make this happen?

  • Staff to help them see the limitations of their perceptions of what we can do, ask them questions and challenge them.
  • The general public.

How are we going to speak with them?

  • Tell stories and show good practice.
  • Talk in staff meetings, show the Heavy Load film.
  • Training social workers while they are still young.

How can we tell it’s worked?

  • People with learning disabilities will be seen and heard.
  • People will be staying out late.
  • And people will know they have the right to Stay Up Late!

What we want

To know and get our rights

Who do we need to speak with to make this happen?

Social workers, families, general public, US (people with learning disabilities)

How are we going to speak with them?

  • Training by experts by experience.
  • Catch social workers young.
  • Experts by experience to talk to family groups.
  • Leaflets for families at GP surgeries and at schools and colleges.
  • Through social media and the media. (Get inspiration from the work that MIND do and get a catch phrase e.g. “People with learning disabilities should be seen and heard.”
  • Make wallet sized guide to peoples’ rights when in hospital and their general rights.

How can we tell it’s worked?

  • By seeing people living where they want to live.
  • People staying up as late as they want and people being happy and visible in their communities, having paid employment and contributing to their communities.

What we want

To live a life, take risks, and not be sheltered away.

For organisations to listen to the desires of the people they support.

Who do we need to speak with to make this happen?

  • Organisations need to manage the culture.
  • Support staff need to be responsive.

How are we going to speak with them?

  • If progress isn’t made we should be able to vote with our feet and walk out.

How can we tell it’s worked?

  • A person’s desires will be met and new desires will emerge.

The discussions fell in four main areas:

Risks – supporting people with learning disabilities to take positive risks

Rights – not only ensuring that people with learning disabilities know their rights but also making sure these rights are not denied.

Taking action – something that we’re always banging on about at Stay Up Late. To make things happen you need to take personal responsibiliuty for making that change happen. Not only that, it’s a great feeling.

People with learning disabilities being in the public eye.

Support work is a fantastic job if you’re the right person for the role but it’s also important that support providers create cultures where positive risks are taken, support staff are confident in their roles as community connectors, are passionate about upholding peoples’ rights and enjoy their work.

There’s lots of things that are difficult to change, and maybe out of our power, but there’s also a lot of things that we can change, which are in our power to change if we want to.

 

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