This week Jonathan from Leeds, who is enabled to live with greater independence by ubu, appeared live on an early morning BBC Radio Leeds programme. He was invited to talk on the Breakfast Show about voting and the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Jonathan, who is married and lives with his wife Anne, is already very active in his local community and has a keen interest in politics. He works at St James Hospital two days a week as part of the ‘Get Me Better Champions’ team. They advise the medical teams in the hospital, talking to them about the difficulties that learning disabled people can face when going into hospital for treatment.
Jonathan joined BBC Radio Leeds host, Richard Stead to answer questions and talk about how easy, or not, it has been for him to ensure that he is registered to vote on June 23. Richard also wanted to find out from Jonathan how he’s gone about gathering the information he needs to decide which way he’s going to vote.
Being invited to speak live on air to a journalist when you don’t know exactly what the questions might be could have been a very daunting prospect. But Jonathan had prepared himself for the interview with his ubu enablers, by talking about the kind of questions he might be asked and how he could tackle any potentially awkward points.
“While I was waiting in the guest area outside the studio before going in, I was feeling a bit nervous” said Jonathan, “but I stayed calm, talked to the production team and told them about some of my previous experiences in the world of politics.” Last year Jonathan met with Members of Parliament in Leeds ahead of last year’s General Election. He discussed some of the big issues facing the electorate with Greg Mulholland and Hillary Benn, and especially how to ensure everyone has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
When it was his turn to join in with the radio programme, Jonathan calmly listened to the questions Richard Stead asked him and responded clearly and confidently making sure that he gave full and thoughtful answers.
Jonathan was quizzed for almost ten minutes and talked about how he had gone about understanding the different issues surrounding the referendum through his research on the internet and by watching the party political broadcasts on television from both sides of the argument. As he pointed out there is plenty of very helpful ‘easy read’ material available, especially on the internet. This information has been designed to help people with learning disabilities understand the issues and how to register to vote, but some people may need to enabling and support to find where to look for it.
Perhaps one of the most compelling points Jonathan made during the interview was that we all have a right to vote and a responsibility to vote as part of our democratic process in this country. He told Richard Stead: “We all have to find out what the different issues are and how they could affect us. I know which way I am going to vote, but the most important thing is that everyone who has a vote uses it”.
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