We all have the chance to shape the future of our country by finding out more about politics and by voting at elections. Everyone should have the chance to share what they think and to be listened to. Love Your Vote workshops have been set up with the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service to enable people with learning disabilities and autism to speak up about what matters to them and to vote in elections.
Jonathan from Leeds, who lives with his wife in an ubu supported flat, wanted to use this opportunity to share his passion for politics and for living independently. He applied for a place at one of the workshops and sent in a question which he wanted to ask at the event.
The Question Time workshop was held at the Holbeck Community Centre in Leeds at the beginning of March. Jonathan was greeted by staff from Connect in the North, who are a Centre for Inclusive Living led by people with learning difficulties. They explained what the day would involve. Jonathan took the opportunity to network with staff and individuals with whom he had previously worked alongside.
The event began with a presentation made by the Parliamentary Outreach Team. They explained the process of voting and how Parliament, Government and MPs work. They talked about how important it is to register to vote by the deadline on 20th April as there will be a general election in May this year. If people are not registered they will not be able to take part in this election.
The workshop session continued with discussions between participants and the development of questions to be put to the politicians at the afternoon Question Time. Jonathan was a very keen and active contributor and he was asked to open the afternoon session with his question “How will your Government support me to find employment?”
Two MPs who attended the event, Greg Mullholland and Fabian Hamilton, explained in response that the challenge for the next government would be to attempt to break down the barriers to employment. They said that, by offering further training and education opportunities to adults to learn on the job, some of these barriers could be removed. A number of topics were raised by participants through their questions.
The politicians also responded to questions about the environment, terrorism, leisure and education. Jonathan and other participants were able to challenge some of the politicians’ comments and to offer insights into their experiences as an adults striving for independence.
Jonathan was interviewed during the event about his life, his expectations of the event and his experience of the day. He was also invited to share his views and passion for politics. The video is available to view here.
ubu is proud to see vulnerable people such as Jonathan exercise their right to inclusion in political debate, and to have their voices heard on the key issues that affect their lives. ubu believes every person, whatever their abilities, has a place in society. By participating in events such as this, meeting with ministers and party candidates and registering to vote, vulnerable people empower themselves and make the changes they want to see.