It always amazes me how easy it is to discuss with people whose thoughts are like one’s own thoughts. You simply do not have to explain anything, you just start a conversation and immediately you understand each other.
I invited myself to attend Learning Disability England’s annual conference in Manchester this week. Learning Disability England has for some time already showed interest in becoming a member of Inclusion Europe. I decided that it was time to find out more about them and their work.
When I told their Chief Executive Samantha Clark about my intentions, I was happy to be welcomed by her as their guest to the conference, and to arrive already the night before. We both seemed to agree that this way we would have had more time for getting to know each other and our work. The day of the conference was fully programmed with conference sessions and there was less time for anything else.
I was lucky to find out that my visit in Manchester happened between two really heavy storms. The storm Ciara was during the weekend before and another one was already developing over Atlantic Ocean and was about hit the British Isles a few days after my departure.
Speaking the same language of inclusion
As I already mentioned, I arrived the day before the conference. First, I met with a few members of the Board of Trustees for a drink and after that we joined the others for a dinner organised for 25 persons, self-advocates, family members, academics and other professionals.
I had the chance to meet Learning Disability England’s Board of Trustees and Members of their Representative Body. Fantastic inclusion people! We all spoke the same “language” and understood each other like we had been working together for years.
Learning Disability England
Learning Disability England is built upon three different perspectives:
- organisations and professionals whose values are the same as those of self-advocates and families.
They talk about co-production, meaning that all parties should be brought together and that the users voice should never be neglected.
Impressive workshop by persons with profound and multiple learning disabilities
The Conference was interesting and it featured brilliant speeches. I did not have the time to attend every workshop, but the main point of my visit was to meet people anyway, and that I managed to do.
I was deeply impressed especially by one of the workshops. It was a presentation of three persons with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) and their support persons from Brighton.
These powerful self-advocates are members of a C4C group (Campaign for change), reminding us to always include everybody, also people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
The meaning of not leaving anybody behind was showcased in an impeccable way in this workshop.
As it always happens after meetings or events by Inclusion Europe or by our members, I felt very much empowered when leaving Manchester. It was definitely a worthwhile visit!
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