When I Stay Up Late I have G&T with the High Commissioner…

In our previous blog we listed the 10 things that make up Stay Up Late’s Manifesto For Change, playfully referred to by the team as our Magna Carta for people with learning disabilities.

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The reason we were talking about the Magna Carta was because we had been invited to a LiberTeas event at the home of the British High Commissioner to Malta to coincide with the Magna Carta celebrations during our trip to Malta as part of the ART-is project.

One of our activities during the tea party was to ask everybody to write on yellow napkins all the freedoms that they enjoy and on the pink ones all the things that we felt were still inequalities for people with learning disabilities that we still need to change. We eventually turned this into a long piece of bunting which we stretched across the High Commissioner’s garden. It was a truly wonderful event with a great opening speech by Tilley and Del which you can read here.

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Having read through all the napkins, here’s a selection we picked of some of the comments made on the napkins:

From the yellow ‘freedoms we enjoy’ napkins, we have:

“freedom to be yourself”

“Normal is a cycle on a washing machine”

“Being able to go out to a nightclub”

“Freedom of speech”

“Go out in the community”

“Free to work where you want”

“Audio guides in the museums and elevators”

“Buses with loud speakers”

“Discounts for tickets”

“Happy to be part of a dance company at Opening Doors”

“Grateful to be part of the board at Opening Doors”

“People believe in me and my potential”

“Given the possibility to perform on stage in front of an audience”

“I decide what to wear”

“I decide to be in a drama group”

“Freedom to dance”

“Happy to have the opportunity to work”

“To be able to go to Malta with some wonderful people”

“Art, sports, cinema”

“Freedom to play music and sport”

“Solheimar is very good…everybody is equal life being together”

“I really like is cinema”

“Gig Buddies, having friends you can trust”

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And from the pink ‘things that still need to change’ napkins, we have:

“There’s not enough books in braille”

“Sceptical employers”

“Proper work opportunities in quality jobs”

“More laws in favour of people with a disability”

“Be more included in society with everybody else”

“Have a proper education at school”

“Be able to get a job”

“People shouldn’t make fun of disabled people”

“We need to be taken seriously”

“Toilets are strictly male and female”

“Change the worlds attitude for all types of disabilities and for some people to adjust how they speak and think”

“I would change discrimination”

“Be able to do arts, crafts, go to school and play games”

“I would change it so that people with learning disabilities in the arts are taken seriously”

“To have voice in parliament”

“Freedom to date and to have a ‘normal’ relationship”

“I don’t want sex to be a taboo”

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These comments represent the views of people from Malta, Poland, Finland, the UK, Belgium, Turkey, Spain and Iceland.

It was impossible to tell which comment came from which country. From this finding we were able to ascertain that the issues the participants face are universal.

It was so refreshing to see 100 people with and without learning disabilities having a fantastic time drinking gin and tonics in the evening sun and eating canapés in the beautiful setting of the British High Commissioner of Malta’s home. This most certainly does not happen every day!

We need to continue to work towards making the difficulties written on the ‘pink’ napkin list nonexistent and the improvements the participants suggested, something that does happen every day!

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