Our (un)Ordinary conference – and how to speak at it

  •  PaulR
  •  26/11/2018
  •  News

Why we’ve decided to organise an (un)Ordinary conference.

Earlier this year Alex Fox published his book ‘A New Health and Care System – Escaping the Invisible Asylum’. In it, Shaun Webster, a self-advocate who works for Leeds based charity Change, talks about his own experience of conferences. He speaks all over the UK, and overseas, and feels that there are a lot of conferences about people with learning disabilities but very few speakers actually with learning disabilities.

Staff leaving early again & it wasn’t even late!

A few years ago I was co-presenting a session with Shaun at a conference in Wolverhampton. Our session was about the Stay Up Late campaign and involving people with learning disabilities in leading their own lives (I was also joined by the awesome Kate Sidthorpe a family carer talking about her experiences).

Sadly though as the conference was scheduled to end at 4pm around half the audience left before and during our session. They said it was to catch the next train.

The irony wasn’t lost on those of us remaining, and those of us presenting.

A different type of conference

Reading Shaun’s quote gave me an idea though – what if we ran a conference where 100% of the speakers had learning disabilities, but where most of the audience were people who were social care professionals; people working in commissioning teams, managers in support providers and other related fields. Anyone who works with people with learning disabilities in some way or another.

Each presenter will speak about an element of the manifesto and how they’re making this happen in their own life.

As a reminder of what’s in our manifesto here is the version from Get2Gether in Edinburgh who’s advisory group of self-advocates put our manifesto in order of importance to them:

  1. Have relationships and a sex life
  2. Have a job and be paid for our work
  3. Choose where we live
  4. Choose our friends and have help only if we need it
  5. Choose how we spend our time
  6. Choose our own staff
  7. Have happy staff who love their work
  8. Choose when we go to bed
  9. Be welcome and active in our community
  10. Not be called names

It does bring to mind that Norman Kirk quote:

“People don’t want much. Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.”

Norman Kirk, Prime Minister of New Zealand

The idea being to hear what an ‘Ordinary Life’ means to real people, and for those people in a position of power to be able to go back to their places of work and be inspired, enraged, shamed, or just nudged at a little, to enable people with learning disabilities to be able to lead an ‘ordinary life’ – not special, not normal, just ordinary!

So that’s what we’re going to do. The event will be in Streatham on 26th March, from 10am to 4pm and we’re going to make it clear that we expect people to stay until the end!

Apply to speak

If you have a story to share and would be willing to tell it at our conference we’d love to hear from you.

To apply to speak download the application form and guidance notes here.


Deadline for applications to speak is 31st Jan ’19. And when we say ‘speak’ we’re open to people presenting in a way that is suitable for them. Whether that’s talking to the audience for 10 minutes, showing a film, singing a song or some other creative way that they choose.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more details, or any questions, drop us a line on info@stayuplate.org

We’ll be updating the event details here too.

Copyright © 2021 Stay Up Late. | Web Strategy and Design by Merseyside.agency