7DaysofAction..its like winning the Lottery

On day 1 of  the 7 Days Of Action to close Assessment and Treatment Units we want to offer our support to the families who are leading this campaign.We want to support the people with learning disabilities who are still in the Assessment and Treatment Units in your struggle to move back into your community.

When we talked about what we could do at CHANGE to support the 7 Days of Action, one of the things that people suggested was that they write a blog about how it feels to have a learning disability and what barriers people with learning disabilities continue to face living in the community.

This blog is written by  a group of people with learning disabilities who work and volunteer at CHANGE. Some people  live on their own independently in the community, some people live with support and some people live in residential units.

This is what people with learning disabilities from CHANGE have to say:

We want to share with you some of our difficult experiences and then our good experiences of what it feels like having a learning disability in 2016 in the UK.

To us having a learning disability can feel like having a monkey on our backs. We feel like we are being put down and being judged all the time. We feel we have to prove ourselves to people all the time wherever we go. Sometimes people help us in picking ourselves back up. We have some good friends on one side of the table who are picking us up and people on the other side of the table who are putting us down.

Sometimes it can  feel like we are in a goldfish bowl and people are judging us all the time and waiting for us to do something wrong then they’ll jump on us, especially if we are parents.  It can happen everywhere.

“Fourteen years ago I moved into the community, no one offered me a cup of tea, they thought I didn’t deserve my house and thought I wasn’t working and that I wanted to be on benefits. But I was picking myself up moving on and getting on with my life. It’s so frustrating, people make so many assumptions about us. We’re not spongers, we want to work. Many people think we can’t do anything for ourselves. In their minds we’re like children. It’s really not nice being treated like a child when you’re an adult. Some people are scared of us and scared to talk to us. Often people will talk about having a learning disability like there’s something wrong with us.”

But…..we can prove people wrong and WE LOVE proving people wrong! When we tell people what we do for a living they look shocked…we’re breaking the ice. People are shocked at what we can do! It makes us laugh! When we start talking to people they stop being scared and they start to respect us.Having a learning disability is who we are, its part of our lives. We love having friends who have a learning disability, because they don’t judge us. I can be myself with people like me. I feel comfortable being me. I feel equal.

We can do things that other people can’t do! We are better at developing accessible information! We can try and put the professionals right by offering them training. We can use our life experiences to develop training which can support people to do their jobs better and to make the world better for other people with learning disabilities. Actually we really ARE the experts! We have our own freedoms, we are role models for other people with learning disabilities giving them hope that there is a better and a different way forward. Being a role model we inspire other people with learning disabilities. Sometimes we can really change peoples’ attitudes and that’s like winning the lottery! We feel so proud.  “I delivered a presentation by heart and someone came up to me and said Wow! How did you pull that off! I felt really passionate and great! It made me want to deliver more training. We can do more!”

We used to hate having a learning disability but now we’re proud we have  a learning disability.

Her’s our message to you: Respect us please! Treat us like you yourselves would like to be treated. We are no different from you. Employ us and let us use our expertise and our wisdom to work together with you to make things better for all people with learning disabilities…

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if people with learning disabilities were offered employment to support people with learning disabilities in the community who have been in Assessment and Treatment Units as a new way forward. Let’s work together to achieve this!

 

Barriers, breaking them down and creating equality.

Over four thousand people have seen and shared on Twitter the horrifically degrading and abusive photo of the support worker employed by Mencap talking on the phone while smoking a cigarette and standing by the Disabled Person they are supposed to be supporting who is covered in their shopping bags balanced humiliatingly across them and their wheelchair.

When we see practice like this or like we saw on the Panorama programme of Winterbourne View, we collectively feel appalled and ashamed of how society can and does treat people with learning disabilities. Speaking with people with learning disabilities employed at CHANGE hearing the story made them feel angry and demeaned. What is perhaps the hardest thing to bear is that we also know that this is not a one off ‘bad’support worker. This is not just something that happens to be caught (luckily) on camera one day in a service run by Mencap. We know that people with learning disabilities are denied their basic human rights every day in many care homes run by many different organisations across the country, and across the world.

At CHANGE, we often hear of people with learning disabilities being treated badly within the services they are using. We see people’s fear to speak out and their pain and frustration at what they and their peers are living through.

Recently a woman with learning disabilities told me that she is not allowed to stay the night with her boyfriend (they are both in their 30’s) because sleeping together is not in his care plan and if it was, the staff said they would then need to do a risk assessment.

A woman at CHANGE recently said how an agency staff ” put me upside down in my hoist into the bath. I felt humiliated and embarrassed”. The staff member was suspended and then sacked. How could this happen in the first place though? How come the woman with learning disabilities was not offered counselling after such a humiliating and traumatic experience? Why wasn’t she offered the chance to be involved in making sure this doesn’t happen again when agency staff are employed, or even offered compensation? We know of people with learning disabilities who are shouted at by staff and who have no control over their own money.  We know that when people with learning disabilities live in 6, 8 10, 12 bedded units, it is simply impossible for them to make choices about their basic rights including what they eat, when they go out, when they have a bath, what time they go to bed, what time they get up, who comes in their bedroom, which staff are on shift, having privacy. These are not rights based models of housing support where people’s basic rights are respected, however good and aware the staff may be.

We live in a society that assesses people with learning disabilities as soon as they get pregnant to see if they would be good enough parents rather that support people to become good enough parents. We make judgements about capacity and use our prejudices to keep people disempowered,  even when we don’t intend to.  We live in a society that sends people with learning disabilities into assessment and treatment units far from their loved ones because there is not enough support in the community, a society where organisations supporting people with learning disabilities rarely actually employ people with learning disabilities to support themselves. We use our deep seated prejudices about what people with learning disabilities can and cannot do to frame the services that we provide and to drive forward the changes that we think are best for people.

Mencap calling people with learning disabilities who use their services ‘beneficiaries’ reflects Mencaps attitudes,  but also my guess is that it reflects the attitudes of many more care providers than just Mencap. People with learning disabilities rarely receive rights based respectful services. At CHANGE we meet and work with hundreds of people with learning disabilities across the country and they tell us their stories of services that are trying to save money, that employ too few staff to support too many people with learning disabilities. They tell us of bad practice and their fear to speak out incase they get into trouble or their care home closes down and they have nowhere to live.

We know there are controlling, abusive staff who will be attracted to become support workers because of the power they will have over another human being, but there are also many good empowering empathetic staff trying their best in very challenging circumstances.

I believe that if the service run by Mencap that the person with learning disabilities in the photo lives in, were to employ staff with learning disabilities as support staff alongside non learning disabled staff, if the care home truly respected the people with learning disabilities paying for their service and if they really worked within a rights based model that role modelled a rights based service this would get much nearer to stamping out abusive practice. In services that already don’t respect people’s rights, where people with learning disabilities are seen as passive recipients of care, it becomes so easy for boundaries of respect and rights to get broken even more and abuse to insidiously and dangerously seep in and become acceptable practice.

Surely it’s the system that needs to change. Going forward, we all need to share our power with Disabled People including people with learning disabilities, we need to look at where good practise exists ,understand what good practise looks like and support care providers to find ways of becoming transparent empowering rights based respectful role models of good services. We need to ensure that every single person with a learning disability who wants is in receipt of their own Direct Payment so they can choose their own services based on service providers needing to evidence and prove their worth and show models of good practice. If we look towards a better future for people with learning disabilities we have to address issues of power,  which means sharing our power, which means employing people with learning disabilities from top to bottom in services and organisations that they use, which means making information accessible, which means asking, genuinely listening, learning from and collaborating with our colleagues and our employers with learning disabilities, and not our “beneficiaries”.

As Shaun Webster MBE says: The word ‘beneficiaries makes me feel physically sick. It’s like going back to old institutions and we don’t want to go back to those days. Often the best people to support us, are other people with learning disabilities. We have more patience and understanding of each other because we know how to look after ourselves and therefore each other. Peer to peer support is what we need. We should be paid for this. We need better ways and more opportunities to become independent in the community. If the support worker in the photo was themselves a person with a learning disability I believe that they would have empathy and understanding and would support the person with a learning disability in an empowering way. If we are employed as support workers and Peer to Peer workers we become role models and this changes what other people with learning disabilities believe they can do. Employing us as support workers and Peer to Peer workers, breaks down barriers and changes attitudes. This changes the culture from the top down to one of respect, inclusion and equality.

 

Promoting inclusion and self-empowerment in Egypt

In November Jai and Shaun were invited to Cairo, Egypt to give three days training on working towards full inclusion for people with learning disabilities and self empowerment by the Coptic Evangelical Organisation for Social Services (CEOSS).  Here in their guest blog they discuss their visit.

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Working in a different country we needed to find out about the culture and attitudes of people. Because everyone spoke Arabic everything we said had to go through a translator. Mina had a hard job, especially when the discussions became heated and everyone wanted to speak at once, but he did great work and was able to keep the conversation flowing so all could be involved! We started by getting to know all the CEOSS staff and finding out what their jobs were.  Everyone was clearly very passionate about the rights of people with learning disabilities and were keen to find out how we could help them to be empowered and become valued members of society. We went through article 19 (Living independently and being included in the community) and article 21 (Freedom of expression and opinion and access to information) of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

We were shocked to find out that people with a learning disability in Egypt are not allowed to vote, get married, or open a bank account. In 2009 the minister of Education said that children with a mild learning disability (over 52% IQ) can go to school. This is not happening, there are only about 7 children presently in main stream schools. The attitude of the other children in school to these children has been that of acceptance and this is encouraging but there is still a long way to go.

In the second two days there we ran workshop for a group made up of professionals working with people with disabilities, people with physical and learning disabilities, and parents of people with disabilities. There was a young man there with autism who really liked Shaun, and kept drawing him pictures and bringing him gifts of biscuits throughout the sessions!

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The whole group were really keen to learn more about communication skills, how to stand up for their rights, what Easy Read is, and how to change peoples’ attitudes in the community as a lot of people in Egypt treat a person with a learning disability really badly and like they are a second class citizen. Very often people with a disability are hidden from society and are either considered a “shame” or a “blessing” on their family. The group enjoyed hearing about Shauns’ life experiences and what he has achieved with the right support and help and where particularly interested in how the co-working model works. We used a lot of interactive methods in the training and the group really enjoyed being part of getting up and actioning out issues instead of just talking about them.

It is most important to change the concept of learning disabilities, the problems and the circumstances. In many communities they believe that the people with the disabilities are the problem. There are major problems with people with learning disabilities  believing in themselves as they have been brought up to believe it is them that have the problem. Now more people are aware of their rights they are demanding that these are met.

At the end of the three days we asked what people had got from the training. Some of the comments were; “Exchanging of experiences” “Communication skills” “Change is necessary” “To be a partner of the group and serve others” “Teamwork, which leads to the goal.”

We really enjoyed working in Cairo, and even managed a trip to the pyramids! We hope we can go back again.

 

You can find out more about the work of CEOSS here: http://en.ceoss-eg.org/

If you don’t respect us in death, how can you respect us in life?

We are people with learning disabilities and people who have autism. Some of us are employed as project workers and some of us are volunteers at CHANGE, a human rights organisation led by Disabled People. This is the first chance we’ve all had to get together and look at the Mazars Review of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust April 2001-March 2015.
First of all we are devastated and truly sorry that Connor Sparrowhawk and hundreds of other people with learning disabilities, have died in such awful circumstances and we have great respect and are very grateful to Connor’s families work to make things better for all people with learning disabilities.
We have met and talked about the Mazars Review and we would like to share with you some of our thoughts and feelings. Firstly, we don’t find the easy read version of the Mazars Review, very easy to understand. We don’t think that it includes some of the most important information and we think that it covers up the worst parts of the Review for example that 1000 people with learning disabilities died unexpectedly since 2011 and the NHS didn’t investigate why some of these people with learning disabilities died. We think that it is very important for all people with learning disabilities to know what has gone on at Southern Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and for this to happen, there needs to be a clearer version of the easy read Review.
We think that not investigating all the deaths of people with learning disabilities and or autism who have died unexpectedly in Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is appalling. It makes us feel very shocked, upset and angry, like our lives are not important. We wonder if the top people at Southern Heath NHS Foundation Trust feel that the lives of people with learning disabilities are important and valuable and we wonder if they are interested in our views. Why would they do this? Why don’t they want to understand what happened when a person with learning disabilities dies unexpectedly? Why don’t they want to learn and improve and make things better for people with learning disabilities using their services?
Because of what has happened, we think that the top people don’t want us to stand up for our rights and have power. The death of one of us should be investigated just as much as someone who isn’t disabled and the fact that this hasn’t happened is horrifying and against the law. It makes us feel very sad and anxious. We are heartbroken for the families and carers who haven’t been involved when they should have been.
We agree with the Mazars Review that the responsibility for this lies with the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive. This has been going on for years.
We think that a start would be for them to write an apology to all the families who have lost loved ones whose deaths have not been investigated and to all people with learning disabilities and or autism across the country.
How do we know that we wouldn’t be treated in the same way if we had to go into Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Services?
If you don’t respect us in death how can you respect us in life?
We think that the Board and the Chief Executive need to be held to account for what has gone wrong and that they should resign.
We are worried that what has been happening in Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is happening in other parts of the country, in other Trusts too.
When we go into hospitals like in Southern Healthcare, our power is taken away from us.
We have had lots of discussions with many people with learning disabilities and we have lots of ideas of how things can be improved for all people with learning disabilities and people who have autism, here are some of our thoughts.
We think that there needs to be the right support, on our terms,for all people with learning disabilities to live in the community.
We think the Chief Executive, Board and all the staff in NHS Trusts should have training delivered by professional people with learning disabilities and their families.
We think that people with learning disabilities need to have training by their peers, other people with learning disabilities, about what to do if they do not feel listened to and respected by staff.
We think that there should be Scrutiny Panels in every area made up of Disabled People including people with learning disabilities and or autism, and family carers. These Scrutiny Panels should have the job of overseeing how the commissioners are spending the money. The Scrutiny Panels should have the job of looking at and seeing that each person with a learning disability and or autism is getting the best service for them. The Scrutiny Panels would need to make sure that money is being spent wisely in ways that respect the rights and wishes of each person with learning disabilities and or autism and their families.
We need trained advocates and lots of powerful self advocacy groups in every area who can speak out with and on behalf of people with learning disabilities and or autism, supporting them to have their rights, good services, to be part of communities and to have a powerful voice when things go wrong.
We want powerful, wise, people with learning disabilities and families to be involved and at the forefront of looking at ways of making things better for other people with learning disabilities and or autism.
Above all, we want to work together so that every person with learning disabilities and or autism and every family across the country has respect, we want to be valued, we want our rights respected, our voices to be heard and changes to happen quickly. We need to stop talking and ACT.

By Royal Appointment: The rise of Shaun Webster MBE

A guest blog by Erin Fahey & Shaun Webster

People with learning disabilities can’t achieve anything.

You could employ them, but it will take too much time to make all of the adjustments, and it won’t be cheap, think of all the extra support you need to get. It’s just not worth the hassle.

Sound familiar?

Shaun Webster has heard it all before. Good for nothing, too slow, not capable. Stick to sweeping floors, at least it’s paid. The problem with Shaun is, he didn’t listen. He wanted more than that, he was worth more than that, and he was going to prove it.

Today, he did.

Today, Shaun has become a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty the Queen and her Government, in recognition of his tireless campaigning over the past 12 years for the equal rights of all people with learning disabilities across the World.

During his time at CHANGE Shaun has gone from a quiet young man low in confidence to an outspoken, confident role model, inspiring other people with learning disabilities to stand up and be counted, and live the lives they choose.

On the eve of the public announcement of his award, I sat down with Shaun to take a moment to look back at that journey and what he wants to see change in the future.

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If you sat down and looked back at your life, what would be your top five best bits?

Having a job where people respect me

Being part of something bigger than myself

Being a role model to children with learning disabilities, to get them to believe in themselves

Becoming a Dad and a Grandad

The first time I moved in on my own and started to make decisions for myself.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always wanted to be a movie critic!

How did your teachers feel about that?

Then didn’t take it seriously, they didn’t really give me any careers advice, they didn’t think jobs were for people with learning disabilities. They never really talked about having a job.

How was your first experience of working life?

I worked in a hotel as a Porter, I enjoyed it because I was meeting new people and earning my first wage, I felt like a proper adult then. I thought now I’m making money for myself, I could go on holidays and go out. Before I had that I felt quite isolated, so it was great! Having my own wage made me feel independent and happier, like a proper worker.  I didn’t want to volunteer I didn’t want to rely on others, I wanted to do my own thing and be my own man. I’ve worked since my early 20’s.

In 2003 you started working at CHANGE. Can you remember how you felt when you first started working here?

I felt a bit overwhelmed. I had never seen so many people with learning disabilities before, especially in a job! I hadn’t really met any other people with learning disabilities before. I was a bit worried about being able to do the job but I had some experience through Keyring of doing presentations but I was nervous. I was a lot quieter then, I’m not quiet now!

I was worried about my memory and scared CHANGE wouldn’t understand me, but they give me time – now they tell me to take time off because I work too hard!

How do you think you have developed over the 12 years of working here?

I feel I am more outspoken and confident, I listen to people a lot because they trust me. I think I am a good role model and I support people. I’m not shy anymore! (Erin agrees) my reading and writing is better too.

Do you think you would be the person you are today if you didn’t have a job?

I think I would be very timid, isolated and lonely and I wouldn’t have a voice. The best thing about CHANGE is that I can challenge people in a way that is professional.

What are the most memorable bits of your job?

One of my best memories is when I went to Croatia with Catherine. Philipa wanted to come with us but we said, no, we can do this for ourselves! Everyone there asked us where our support worker was. We saw their faces just drop when we said we didn’t have one, it was amusing! We were trailblazers!

The first time I ever worked abroad, I had never travelled further than Skegness! I went to Romania with Philipa, it was really really good! I felt like people listened to me and it really showed people co-working. To me it was like going to another World! I’d never even been on a plane. It set me off, I ended up going to America after that!

A month ago, you got a letter in the post from the government, how did you feel when you realised what it said?

(Shaun laughs) at first I thought it was a joke, I thought you were winding me up Erin! I took it to show my Mum and she said this is really serious. I felt light headed, I thought I might collapse! I was happy and proud, and then I thought why me?! Then it sunk it and I felt really proud. Not telling anyone has been really hard.

Why do you think the government might think that what you do is important?

I am very passionate about what I believe in. I am outspoken and believe what I say. I think what I say to people is real and the work I am doing is making a difference to people, I think I am a good role model. I am equal to other professionals who haven’t  got a learning disability.

My Mum says I’m there to kick butt!

How do you think having an MBE will change life for you?

(Shaun laughs again) Do I get a pay rise?!

I think I will be my same old self, but I think people outside of CHANGE will respect me and put me and CHANGE on the map. Usually MBE’s get given to people who climb mountains, not normal people like me.

What message do you think it gives to other people with learning disabilities?

I want it to give other people belief in themselves. What I have been saying for a long time is I am a role model but I want to work to make other people confident and break down their own barriers. I want people to realise what skills they have got.

How do you want to see things change for people with learning disabilities?

I want organisations and the media to take people with learning disabilities more seriously for the skills they have, not just tokenistic things. CHANGE helped show me skills I didn’t know I had. Lots of people with learning disabilities have hidden skills. I want other people to have that chance too.

What would your message be to other people will learning disabilities who have ambitions to do big things?

I believe I can do this. Never stop believing in yourself, don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do it.

If you’ve got something you want to do, then do it.

My Dad said to me I would never had a job, never have kids and never do anything. I proved him wrong. I’ve got everything I wanted in life and I got it myself. It wasn’t easy but I got there. I got the job I always wanted to have.

To finish on a personal note, both on behalf of myself and CHANGE we are incredibly proud of Shaun for achieving this recognition. This isn’t a tokenistic award, it isn’t just given to fill a quota. It is given to people who have made a difference, who have worked tirelessly for others for something they are passionate about and believe in. Shaun Webster MBE is all of these things. He genuinely cares about the lives of people with learning disabilities, he wants everyone to live the lives they want, just like everyone else.

Of course at CHANGE, we’ve known how great Shaun is for a long time, and we are so glad that the country has now recognised that too.

Shaun’s MBE shouldn’t just be an inspiration for people with a learning disability, it should be an inspiration to all of us, that it doesn’t matter how many times people beat you down, we can all achieve great things if we really put our minds to it.

Shaun with his memory collage

Things are so much better with two: What we can learn from working with eachother

Guest blog by Erin Fahey, Shaun Webster and Jai Rae

Two heads are better than one.

It’s a saying said by many and often. In fact, its a phrase that was first recorded in 1545.

Here at CHANGE we know its true; we call it co-working.

At CHANGE we employ two people to work on all of our projects, one person has a learning disability, one doesn’t, both have different skills and expertise. Why? Because two heads really are better than one. By sharing our skills and expertise we can learn from each other, support each other and create a bigger impact and a higher quality of work.

Our International Project Worker Shaun has been using the co-working model throughout his 12 years at CHANGE and has worked with many different co-workers along the way. He has learnt a lot from all of them in different ways, and they have learnt a lot from him.

In May we welcomed Jai Rae to CHANGE who is working as part of our Projects Team alongside Shaun on our international work, as well as co-delivering our employment and better communication training courses.

In today’s blog, Shaun and Jai reflect on what they have learnt from each other so far and how they plan to develop their work together going forward.

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Shaun

“I was a bit shy and nervous the first day Jai and I worked together but she was very friendly and open. I’m very excited working with Jai as I’m learning new skills doing drama in our presentations. When we did our first drama on Employment I felt confident as I didn’t have to learn loads of stuff, we improvised around real life situations. What I like is that we’re learning new things by ‘doing’ them, not just writing them on paper. I feel very comfortable with Jai as we both respect each other and listen to each other, we can tell each other things and understand each other. I look forward to coming to work.  Other people say we work well together and that it looks like we have been working together for a long time”.

Jai

“From the first day working together Shaun and I found we had a lot in common and shared the same passion that drama is a very powerful way of working with people.  Shaun has a lot of experience and knowledge from working on all kinds of projects and I am enjoying learning from him. When we start work on a new project we discuss ideas of what we both think may be good to include. We both really listen to each other and are able to speak openly, both sharing the same sense of humour and passion to improve the lives of the people we are working for. Shaun and I are also learning new skills together, we are helping each other learn to tweet and we are excited to be developing new training packages together. We have a great partnership, we make all decisions jointly, have equal input, and really enjoy working together.”

Co-working really isn’t that hard to do. It may take time, and it may cost money but it unlocks skills and talents in team members and gives people the opportunity to work in meaningful, fulfilling and influential roles who wouldn’t usually get the chance. It is an inclusive way of working, and a way we should all be working.

We all need support in the workplace, and we all have something to bring, whatever needs we have. This year we want to see more organisations adopt the co-working model and more people with learning disabilities, autism and additional support needs in the workplace. Together we can achieve great things.

You can see co-working in practice and hear more about the importance of meaningful employment here:  

Stamping out discrimination in Europe: Reflecting on time in the Czech Republic

After a great week in the Czech Republic, Shaun and Piers reflect on their time and the impact it has had on the social care professionals they have worked with.

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At the end of the two days of training, we can say that it was a success. The social workers and self-advocates were really taking on board our ideas about peer-to-peer support, role modelling, self-advocacy, accessible resources, parenting, sexuality and other issues for people with intellectual disabilities, supported decision-making and independent living.

On the second day we thought it would be a good idea to talk about ‘Action Plans.’ Actions Plans are a tool for helping build a person’s confidence to live independently and make decisions for themselves. The social workers from Brno were particularly interested in hearing about this tool. But we were careful to point out that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and while an action plan might benefit some people it won’t work for everyone. Support with decision making and independent living is about taking it one person at a time. This means being flexible based on who the person is and what they want from their life. We also talked about risk taking. Shaun pointed out that people with intellectual disabilities – like all people – need to able to take risks. Sometimes social workers are scared to ‘take their gloves’ off because they’re scared they will get in trouble if something goes wrong. But we wanted to move the focus from preventing risk to protecting the right to a normal life. And that means making mistakes and growing – not being wrapped in cotton wool.

At the end of the day we asked participants for their feedback. Many people were struck by the co-working model. They said the model, as well as how we work together, was inspiring. Some people seemed surprised that it was our first time working together. Some social workers who were there said that they would go back and try to develop their own co-working arrangements.

We were really pleased and we hope that in a years time we can see co-working and self-advocacy happening in the Czech Republic. Many of the participants said that they were inspired by Shaun’s work at CHANGE.

Shaun: “Including people with intellectual disabilities in paid peer-to-peer roles was the next step for the Czech Republic.  I really like working with Piers and I’d like to work together in the future because it was really comfortable. We sometimes jumped in to comment on each others presentation and our different skills and knowledge were really complementary.”

Piers: “I was really pleased with how we worked together and Shaun gave me a lot to think about – including making my slides more accessible!!”

We’d like to thank our hosts here and the training participants and we hope to do more of this kind of thing in the future. Stopping discrimination against people with disabilities – preventing hate crime and including people in all areas of life – won’t happen over night in the Czech Republic. It will take time. We hope our presentation took us one step closer to that goal.

We will post photos of our trip soon.

Your humble correspondents from Prague,

Shaun and Piers”