Feeling safe and employment matter most to people with a learning disability

Published : 29/06/2012 00:00

Feeling safe and employment matter most to people with a learning disability

People with a learning disability voted that feeling safe and being able to get a job were their top priorities at an event at Leeds Civic Hall last week (18 June).

The Take 2 event marked the start of Learning Disability Week in Leeds, and was organised by Leeds City Council in partnership with Mencap and Tenfold, the learning disability forum in the city.

Take 2 was attended by over 100 people, including councillors and council officers, and representatives from other public services including police, fire and health. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Ann Castle, presided over the event in the council chamber. In the spirit of democracy she invited co-chair Susan Hanley, who has a learning disability, to swap seats with her so that Susan could find out what it was like to be Lord Mayor for a morning.

Approximately 70 people with a learning disability took over councillors’ seats in the chamber, where meetings of full council take place. They took part in speeches and a mock election to decide which issues were of the most concern to them. Councillors then responded to some of the issues raised and answered questions.

The majority of votes were about the issue of feeling safe, which was particularly appropriate as Mencap’s focus for Learning Disability Week 2012 was disability hate crime and the need for the police to be able to carry on the good work they are doing in this area. Employment came out as the other top priority with only one in 10 people with a learning disability in work. It was clear that people are concerned that the economic downturn is making it even harder for them to get jobs.

Talking about the event, Susan Hanley said:
“It was a big honour to be allowed to use the council chamber for this event, which helped us to raise important issues with people who can do something about them. It was wonderful when the Lord Mayor asked me to sit in her chair!”

Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Ann Castle, said:
“The people here today raised some very serious issues, but there was also an air of celebration at being given the chance to speak in the heart of democracy in Leeds.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for adult health and social care said:
“The Take 2 event was a great success, giving people with a learning disability a better understanding of how power in the city works. I hope that it will give them the confidence to speak out about their issues and concerns, safe in the knowledge that their voices will be heard.

“It was very clear from the event what a big issue feeling safe is for people. We have recently launched the Safe Place scheme in Leeds, which aims to provide extra security for learning disabled people so that they can live and enjoy their lives to the full, safe in the knowledge that assistance is close by if they need it.

“I would encourage local businesses to register to be part of this excellent scheme so that we can work together to build up a strong network of safe places for vulnerable adults in Leeds.”

The Leeds Safe Places scheme was also launched during Learning Disability Week. The scheme aims to help people with a learning disability to deal with any problems they encounter whilst out and about in the community.

Led by adult social care services in Leeds in partnership with third sector organisations, West Yorkshire Police, and Leeds and York NHS Partnership Foundation Trust, the scheme will provide a network of safe places that people with a learning disability can go to if they are lost or are faced with dealing with any difficulties whilst they are out and about in the city.

The council are looking for a wide variety of businesses, places of interest and community venues, such as shops, sports centres, libraries and cafes to join the scheme. Following their training they will be issued with the nationally recognisable Safe Places sticker, which they can display in their window.

For more information about the Safe Places scheme in Leeds please phone Leeds 214 3446 or email safeplaces@leeds.gov.uk


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk