LISTENING to the voices of people with learning disabilities is the key message of a new Mencap campaign.
Parliamentary candidates from Redditch are being encouraging to join the Hear My Voice drive in a bid to ensure the next government addresses issues faced by the community.
A total of 1.4million people in the UK have a learning disability, with a quarter of adults spending less than one hour outside their home each day and 80 per cent of family carers saying they have reached crisis point.
But Heart of England Mencap bosses claim these issues are rarely, if ever, debated during elections and most politicians do not understand what a learning disability is or how these issues impact on people’s lives.
All five of the candidates in the running for the Redditch County seat in this May’s General Election expressed their support for the campaign when approached by the Standard, with MP Karen Lumley saying the first-hand accounts as part of the campaign were a ‘powerful reminder’ of the needs of those with learning disabilities.
“I know ministers want to improve the quality of care and ensure better outcomes for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers. I am pleased the NHS has taken steps to improve the quality of nursing for people with learning disabilities and there is now a learning disabilities health check scheme which most GPs are signed up to.”
Rebecca Blake, standing for Labour, said the issues faced by people with learning disabilities was a priority for her.
“One of the reasons I am standing to become the next MP for Redditch is because the changes to benefits like ESA and DLA have put many people with learning difficulties into poverty and this needs to change.”
UKIP candidate Peter Jewell said he supported the cause but blamed the current and previous government for not taking action and the lack of money.
“It is simple, the money is there without raising taxes. I have taken a reasonably forensic approach to some of the spend that the UK undertakes and have found initially £184billion, without taking into consideration the cost of EU legislation. Far greater emphasis needs to be taken on the more unfortunate people and the elderly than we are doing at present.”
Green Party contender Kevin White added: “For too long people with disabilities have been treated as second class citizens. I will make sure there are sufficient resources to ensure everyone is empowered to take their rightful place in society and receive the medical and social care they may need.”
Independent candidate Seth Colton said: “Having experienced family members with learning difficulties I fully understand the support that is needed not only for them but also for their carers/family. Without the continued support of Mencap their voices would not be heard and their needs supported.
“I pledge that as the MP of Redditch I will fight for more support, more funding and work tirelessly for social care, social justice and social equality.”