A new campaign has been launched that aims to increase the number of people with learning disabilities who vote in elections.
The campaign, run by support provider Dimensions, called ‘Love Your Vote’ encourages people with learning disabilities to help shape the future of their country and local communities.
Working alongside the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, the campaign will involve a series of workshops starting in the autumn, open to people supported by Dimensions and the wider learning disability community to explain the parliamentary process and how to vote.
Engagement in politics and voting among the learning disability community is generally low. In a recent survey of people supported by Dimensions, only 10% said they voted in the 2010 General Election.
Steve Scown, chief executive of Dimensions, said this proves that people with learning disabilities and autism are not sufficiently aware of their right to vote or how to vote: “It is essential for people to be engaged more with the electoral system – low turnouts among people we support is likely due to a lack of education on the subject rather than a lack of interest.
“Through this campaign, we want to ensure that people with learning disabilities and autism are provided with accessible information about their rights to make an informed choice about voting.
“It is shocking that so few people have used their opportunity to vote in the past and it is so important to ensure people know all about their voting rights. The rights of people with learning disabilities and autism should never be marginalised and I really hope this campaign will help people to understand the voting system further and be encouraged to participate in making future decisions for this country.”
All aspects of electoral system
The workshops will cover all aspects of Parliament and the electoral system. The workshops will be held across the country using easy-read materials and presentations tailored to the target audience.
The campaign also aims to inform people how to lobby their local MP about issues that affect their lives and demonstrate what impact lobbying has.
Dan Weston, who is from Sheffield, has learning disabilities and is supported by Dimensions, hasn’t voted before because he didn’t know about the process. He said: “I am looking forward to learning more about Parliament and voting – I think people should vote. It’s important. I will go to a workshop and I hope to learn a lot.”
Clare Cowan, head of public information and outreach at Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, added: “It’s important that people understand the work and relevance of Parliament and how to make their voice heard about the issues which matter to them.”