What is Big Society?

Introduction

A photograph of Jodie Bradley.

 

This is Jodie and she works at Speakup.

 

 

A photograph of Vicky Farnsworth.

 

 

This is Vicky and she also works at Speakup.

 

Logo for Speakup Self Advocacy

 

Speakup is a self-advocacy organization in Rotherham in the UK.

 

 

A circle enclosed a magnifying glass. Inside the glass are people pointing to a table together

Jodie and Vicky are co-researchers.

Together with university researchers they are asking how are people with a learning disability doing at a time of cuts in the UK?

 

 

We are all working together.

Northumbria University logo Foundation of People with learning disabilities logo Circles of Support Logo University of Bristol logo University of Sheffield logo Manchester Metropolitan University logoMencap logo

What we are doing

a photograph of people at a meeting

 

We are talking to people with learning disabilities, their families, friends and allies.

 

 

A group of people

Spending time with people with learning disabilities in self-advocacy groups, at work and in circles of support. Finding out about whether The Big Society idea is creating opportunities for people with learning disabilities in society.

 

What the government says Big Society is…

three people outside a house. One person is using a wheelchair

 

Communities doing more for themselves.Volunteering in your community.

 

 

A photograph of the British parliament buildings.

 

The government is saying they will do less and local and voluntary groups must do more.

 

 

What do people with learning disabilities think the Big Society is?

A photograph of a woman looking confused with a question mark beside her.

 

As part of our research we asked people “what do you think Big Society is?”

 

 

Here are some of the things they said…

a man scratching his head with a question mark to his right

 

We are not sure what Big Society is!

 

 

three people outside a house. One person is using a wheelchair

 

We think it might be about different communities working better together.

 

 

a photograph of scissors

 

We think that Big Society is just another name for funding cuts.

 

 

People also said…

photograph of a woman with her head down and her arms folded across her chest

 

We think that some people with learning disabilities are becoming more lonely.

 

 

a brick building with a large sign which reads 'closed down'

 

We think this is because there are not so many places open for them to meet.

We have noticed that services for people with learning disabilities have closed down.

People said…

a photograph of a group of people who are holding each other

 

Friendship Circles are important. Having a friendship circle helps us to enjoy our life and helps us when our lives get heard.

 

 

A photograph of three people with their arms around each other.

 

It’s important to have people who you trust in your life.

 

People also told us…

A photograph of two couples holding each other.

 

People with learning disabilities have got families, friends and jobs.

 

 

a photograph of four disabled people with speech bubbles around them

 

People with learning disabilities are speaking up for themselves.

 

 

The words NHS in a magnifying glass

 

People with learning disabilities are having their say on partnership boards, National Health Service commissioning groups and on Care Quality Commission Inspections.

 

We have asked people… What is self-advocacy?

a man with his hand raised

 

How has self-advocacy helped you or other people?

 

 

a woman using a wheelchair with her hand raised

 

Why self-advocacy still matters?

 

 

a woman using a wheelchair with her hand raised

 

What would happen if you self-advocacy services were cut?

 

 

What is Self Advocacy? This is what people said…

four disabled people together with their arms raised

Campaigning for things what we are passionate about fighting for our rights.

Being a rep for people with learning disabilities sharing other opinions on their behalf.

 

 

How has self-advocacy helped you or other people? This is what people have said…

a photograph of a man

 

Being a self advocate and coming to the self advocacy group has helped me with my social skills and speak more clearly. I have also improved on my writing skills.

 

photograph of a woman

Being a self advocate has helped me to asking for advice when you receive jargon information for e.g. letters I get I tell my self advocacy group to reassure me or help me understand.

Why self-advocacy still matters?

a photograph of scissorsIn 2011, the Disability News Service[1] reported devastating cuts to the funding for self-advocacy organisations in the UK. They reported that the number of groups who are members of People First had dropped from 120 – 97.

 

 

This is what people have said…

a photograph of four disabled people with speech bubbles around them

 

Self Advocacy matters because people with learning disabilities and /or autism need the chance to talk about things that affect their lives and how to improve services.

 

What would happen if you self-advocacy services were cut?

A photograph of Vicky Farnsworth.I would have less things to do. I would lose my confidence, I would have to find another job so that I could pay my mortgage; but jobs are hard to find for people with learning disabilities. I have two girls and I wouldn’t make ends meet. I would be lonely, my advocacy group forms part of my circle of support.

 

 

a photograph of a woman

I would be lost without my advocacy service. They have given me a lot of advice around benefits and letters to help me understand what they are about.

 

 

People also said…

a man with benefit pamphlets around him

 

They are worried about benefit changes.

 

 

a woman looking worried

 

They are worried about services changing.

 

 

a photograph of scissors

 

 

They are worried about cuts to social care.

 

Jodie’s story …

A photograph of Jodie Bradley.Being a self advocate has made me more confident in new things. I have more friends than I had at school and college.

Since I came to a self advocacy group, I have done things that I have never dreamed of doing like being an inspector for the Care Quality Commission and being a representative/trainer for different projects.

It is important that self advocacy services are not cut.

Some important messages from the research so far

a photograph of a man

 

It’s important that self advocacy services are not cut because speaking up for yourselves/sharing what you have learnt with others giving other people confidence.

 

 

Important Messages

a photograph of a manIt has given me job experience and more understanding of other people, it has given me more confidence.

I have got good I.T. skills and I have had a chance to use my skills.

I am also a trainer for My Health and I’m A Person Too which are training courses to train doctors, nurses, the job centre, the police, receptionists and students how to work with people with a learning disability and/or autism.

As part of our research called The Researcher in Residence Phase

disabled woman points at man in suitWe are asking our MPs and other political parties to talk with us about how to make their manifestos easier to understand so that people can vote and understand what they are voting for.

We wrote to the political parties asking for information… they didn’t reply.

 

 

accessible voting ticket

 

 

Accessible information to help people make decisions is so important.

 

 

 

To learn more about the Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research go to their website.

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