This week, Catherine Carter, a project worker with a learning disability went on her own to give a presentation at a conference in Manchester. I am so proud and honored to be part of Catherine’s journey of the amazing things that she has achieved for herself and for women with learning disabilities since working at CHANGE. Here is her story of the day:
On 13th September 2017, I attended the Vos (Voices of Survivors) and MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health) project conference in Manchester yesterday.
I went there to talk about women with learning disabilities who have been sexually abused or raped. I gave my speech about the lack of support there is for women with learning disabilities and how there needs to be better support for women.
I also talked about the lack of easy read information out there for women who have been victims and the lack of experience in what women with learning disabilities can experience when reporting the crime and how staff needs to be trained up with more knowledge around reporting, communication, easy read.
I talked about Peer support and how important it is for women with learning disabilities to get Peer to Peer support. I think there is only one SARC (Sexual Assualt Referral Centre) in England where the staff have been trained in communicating with and supporting women with learning disabilities and autism who have been sexual abused or raped. This SARC is in Bristol.
I mentioned how important it was for all SARC services in England to be inclusive for women with learning disabilities and how the SARC services need to be trained on communication and easy read.
I also feel that SARC services should employ women with learning disabilities in their services to deliver support and role models for women with learning disabilities who have been raped or sexually abused. I feel that all services that support women around sexual abuse or rape should be employing women with learning disabilities.
After my speech yesterday I was approached by Traffod Rape Crisis to train their volunteers around supporting women with learning disabilities and another company came up to me talk about the same subject.
I also spoke to Baroness Beverley Hughes PC for Stretford in Manchester about SARC services and how they need improving, she is going to invite me to a conference in November where they are looking at the topic of improving the services on how a woman reports rape or sexual abuse and how services can be improved.
I also met the actress Julie Hesmondhaigh who played Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street! She was there with her theatre company called Take Back. I talked to Julie about Theatre of the Oppressed which is what we do at CHANGE when we deliver training and I gave her a leaflet about CHANGE.
I think I inspired a lot of people yesterday about women with learning disabilities and where improvement needs to be change and I felt proud and good to know that I am making a difference in the lives of women with learning disabilities.