Making a splash in Streatham – the (un)Ordinary Conference

An (un)Ordinary Social Care Conference

I’m Darren. I started in January 2019 as the Campaigns Co-ordinator for Stay Up Late – a brand new post.  My first main task here has been working to organise the conference we have coming up on March 26th. The idea for the (un)Ordinary conference was spelt out by our Director, Paul.

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?

There are always plenty of conferences about people with learning disabilities but this is going to be a conference by them. We’ve had an incredible amount of interest from people wanting to take part in the conference, from giving talks to running workshops, to showing films to singing songs.

(un)Ordinary stories?

We heard from Ben a 25 year-old white guy in London. When he was younger lots of things used to get on his nerves but on the school bus there were two Jamaican guys who used to play him Jamaican music on the way home. Now he’s a hugely knowledgeable and well-known figure in the Bashment music scene. (We found Ben thanks to the wonderful Rightful Lives exhibition).

We heard from Phillip who had been in a relationship with Alison for several years. They wanted to get married but it was only with a change in support staff that their dreams were taken seriously. Phillip and Alison have been happily married for five years now. 

We heard from Amber who now has a paid job at an arts organisation. Not only has she developed skills like public speaking she’s now much more independent because she’s managing her own money.

How can we make more ordinary things happen?

Those attending the conference will be hearing from Ben and Philip and Amber and many more like them. Going to music nights and meeting friends, falling in love and settling down, finding a job and getting paid – these are all pretty ordinary things that many of us take for granted. They should be just as ordinary for people with learning disabilities, too.

All too often, however, there are un-necessary barriers in place that make things like this extraordinary for people with learning disabilities and autism. Removing those barriers and making sure that people get the support they need to live the life they want to is what the (un)Ordinary conference is all about.

It’s what our ‘Manifesto for an Ordinary Life’ is all about too.

Interest has been huge and we’re already sold out of tickets but we’re hoping that lessons from this conference can be learnt far and wide. We’ll also be filming it and sharing what comes out widely.

The (un)Ordinary conference talks place in Streatham on March 26th.

Social Care Conference

Darren Johnson – Campaigns Co-ordinator, Stay Up Late

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