All Wales People First (AWPF) Policy Manifesto for Young People with Learning Disabilities

Who

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Why

All Wales People First:  ‘the united voice of self-advocacy groups and all people with learning disabilities across Wales’.

The project was one of 10 delivered through the ‘Shares for All’ partnership under Round 2, Action 2, of the ESF Equal-funded programme in the UK.

It was developed as a response to the recognition that many young persons with learning disabilities have been excluded from the political process; through a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complex electoral process and through limited access to the democratic system.

The projects stated aims were: “To engage people with learning disabilities in policy development by evaluating current practice, creating participation guidance, developing skills and knowledge for full participation”.

What

Young persons with learning disabilities from (22) local groups across Wales, striving for an even mixture of genders cultures and backgrounds.

How

The project activity focused on the lobbying of politicians (across the spectrum of parties) at a series of ‘Hustings’ events (5 Regional and 1 National) in the run-up to the National Assembly for Wales elections in 2007.  

The process leading to the Hustings events was as follows:

• develop project plan
• consult with members of 22 People First groups across Wales, involving individuals with learning disabilities
• aggregate views into a 27-point ‘Charter’ for young persons with learning disabilities
• consult on the Charter at the AWPF annual conference and agree the 9 rights that form the Manifesto, involving  individuals with learning disabilities
• develop a training toolkit for People First Members and organise a series of training events
The Manifesto established 9 rights for young persons with learning disabilities, with clear targets and deadlines for:

•    “The right to control our lives”
•    “The right to speak up for ourselves”
•    “The right to respect”
•    “The right to personal growth”
•    “The right to be included in the same activities as everyone else”
•    “The right to friendships and relationships”
•    “The right to choose how and where we live”
•    “The right to good quality health care”
•    “The right to good quality support”.

When

During election 'hustings' meetings. This pilot project was applied in 2007 but has had a direct impact on policy for people with learning disabilities in Wales, with a national People First Manifesto – based on this model – launched in 2016.

Effect

This project was evaluated by Bob Townley as part of the wider ‘Equal: Shares for All Evaluation’ undertaken by Wavehill Consulting.

The evaluation noted that AWPF’s direct involvement in policy making, through work with a Welsh Government’s Learning Disability Advisory Group (LDIAG), presented opportunities for a ‘rights push’ with the Assembly as this Group was established specifically to advise the Welsh Government ‘on the implementation of the All Wales Strategy for people with Learning Disabilities’.

One Welsh Government Assembly Member stressed the project’s importance in terms of “radicalising excluded people”.

According to an external agency representative (with high-level involvement in the LDIAG) the production / dissemination of the Manifesto “puts AWPF on the political map”, the production of which “took a level of organisation a step above what they have done before”.
The project was straightforward to implement.

The longer-term impact is apparent in the development of this model and on-going policy influence within the Welsh Government evidenced by production of the national Manifesto in 2016, influencing and all Wales strategy for people with learning disabilities.

This project is replicable and can be adapted to different environments.

Assessment

Effectiveness:

High degree / regularly

Gender sensitivity:

High degree / regularly

Culture sensitivity:

High degree / regularly

Doable (practical):

High degree / regularly

Participatory:

High degree / regularly

Replicable and adaptable:

High degree / regularly

Assessment/evaluated:

High degree / regularly

Type of good practice

Methods, Practical tool

Themes

Promoting democratic values, Social inclusion, Youth civic participation

Duration

One month or less

Type of activity

Group activity

Resourses

The evaluation noted that the toolkit produced through the project had potential for transferability to a wider range of groups / communities excluded from, or under-participating, in the democratic process. It provides a framework that could be replicated and updated at different points in time and in other parts of the UK (and EU). The toolkit is interlinked with the Manifesto in that it describes (and simplifies) the different elements, requirements and stages, of the electoral process but also the importance of the individual vote and its potential to influence policy change. The toolkit links the strategic role of the Manifesto to the Hustings events and to longer-term policy decisions. Beyond this the toolkit also describes the identities and aims of the different parties and the Assembly structure, in terms of the influence gained by individual parties within the Assembly. The toolkit also has a role in engaging all People First Groups in the process, by giving the information needed to organise and manage regional Hustings events. The work and support of the project team was highly praised by beneficiaries, particularly in terms of helping people to be independent, to develop coping skills, and helping to prepare young people for the Hustings events.

Contact

Brian De Lord

United Kingdom

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