Self-advocacy was a central theme that came out of our new mandate for 2020 - 2024. We said that, as a Community, we wanted to ensure that people with learning disabilities were at the heart of decision making.

In order to do that we started a Speaking Group in March this year and we meet every month on zoom. Helen Carron, a friend of the Community and Speech and Language therapist, chairs it. The speaking group is a chance for core members to have their say in what happens in our Community.

At the start we take time to catch up on everybody’s news and then we think about a topic that is important to the group. Topics covered have been life in Lockdown - the good and the bad things - and we have thought of ideas to help each other when we’re feeling sad or missing our families. We have used pictures, writing and talking to help everyone to join in. As our representative on the National Speaking Council, Emma then shares this with L’Arche UK and she shares their news with us in Manchester.

We asked Eleanor to describe what the Speaking Group in Manchester is like. Eleanor said,

We talk to people, members of the Community, core members and assistants. We catch up and ask how everyone is doing. We tell each other what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’.

When asked how Eleanor felt about the Speaking Group she said,

It makes me happy to see everyone on Zoom, to be able to catch up with friends. Nice to have a space where can share and get help from Nem and Helen. I look forward to taking part in it.

Kathy is excited about our next Speaking Group where we’re going to talk about how we can still have a great Christmas, even with things being so different. She said,

On Zoom, we’re going to talk about Christmas. Doing Christmas cards and decorations and having great time. It’s good that we get to chat to our friends at the group on Zoom about it. I think it’s great. I like talking to people and being sociable and relaxed.

The Speaking Group is helping ensure we are led by people with learning disabilities in our Community. We’re excited to see where it takes us.

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