votingPeople with learning disabilities from Essex and London have been encouraged to use their right to vote in the forthcoming general election by taking part in a political forum, organised by a social care charity.

Ilford-based Vibrance has hosted an impartial political forum to allow its service users the chance to find out more about the election, the voting process and the political parties involved.

The event, held at Chapter House, in Chelmsford, on February 23, gave Vibrance service users the chance to meet and quiz representatives from the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and UKIP.

Vibrance supports some 850 adults throughout London and the southeast with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues, offering a range of community services, low-support housing, nursing and care homes, short breaks, supported employment and self-directed services.

The event was organised following feedback from service users, who said they had previously not engaged with the election process due to a lack of understanding and information. To maintain a sense of impartiality, Vibrance ensured the main political parties were involved in the forum.

Paul Allen, chief executive of Vibrance, said: “At Vibrance we are always looking to open the door to opportunities for all of our service users, and organising this event was a great way for us to demonstrate this.

“People with a disability have the same right to vote as anybody else – we just need to ensure they are getting the appropriate information and opportunities to allow them to understand the process.

“The event was arranged to enable the people we support to access information about the forthcoming general election, with the hope they will feel empowered to use their right to vote in an informed way. We feel it gave them an invaluable insight into the world of politics and an overview of the general election and voting process.

“At Vibrance we do everything within our power to give the people we support a greater voice within their local community – and there can be no greater way for them to demonstrate their voice and place within society than by casting a vote in the forthcoming general election.”