self advocacy

3rd December 2020 • Emma Cooper

In September 2018, Sunderland People First successfully applied to work with a team of academics at the University of Sheffield on a Fellowes project.

This work has created an interactive map, along with a website, of learning disability self advocacy organisations across England.

The interactive map and website are being launched on 3rd December 2020, the International Day of Disabled People.

You can access the website and map here:  https://selfadvocacygroups.co.uk/

Furthermore, the project recognised that recent austerity measures have directly affected self-advocacy groups. As many even had to close because of lack of funding.

This has had an effect on the areas of people’s lives that are consistently overlooked. Such as friendships and relationships and the right to equal and quality healthcare, to name a few.

Local Authorities are frequently taking the decision to solely fund statutory advocacy. This is advocacy that is designed to support people who have mental health issues; and need help to make important decisions and secure the rights and services to which people are entitled to.

This means self-advocacy groups are increasingly pushed for resources and don’t have the network available to work with and help each other. Learning disability and autism self-advocates are all on the same team and working towards the same goals.

The interactive map and website will help self advocacy groups to get in touch with each other, share resources and work in partnership on important issues.

About the project

Jodie Williams, a self advocate and Director with Sunderland People First and Vice Chair of Learning Disability England’s Board of Trustees said: “I am passionate about making sure that people with a learning disability and autistic people have a strong voice and have a good life. I have loved working with Sheffield University as part of the Fellowship Project and sharing how self-advocacy groups across the country do amazing work. I hope that this new self-advocacy map will help to connect and support groups to share this work especially during these difficult times. We know that we are stronger together.”

Moreover, a key aspect of the project was the role self advocates with a learning disability played as decision makers on the project.

The judges said: “The project has really built momentum and has been a great example of effective partnership working.”

The website and interactive map will be administrated by Learning Disability England. As their part in ensuring this important work continues and grows.