As CEO of a social care provider having recently gone through the budget setting period, I know only too well that times are tough. The importance of investing in quality support and ensuring the workforce are paid as much as can possibly be afforded are very high on the priority list, and all other costs get close scrutiny. 

At SeeAbility, we’re members of various organisations, all of which have to be good value for money and ensure our membership helps us to achieve our aims. Membership at Learning Disability England (LDE), to us, is critical. Why?  Well, this is about being part of something bigger than us: this is about a movement for change.

We all know that people STILL aren’t living the lives they choose everywhere, that people don’t have the rights, choice, inclusion, and independence that we all expect, and that active citizenship is still a pipedream for many people with learning disabilities. Yet, if we work together, I believe we’ll get closer to achieving those aims than ever before.

What is Learning Disability England? 

LDE is the only national membership organisation that brings together members with learning disabilities, families, professionals and organisations. It believes that societal change will happen when people with learning disabilities are seen and accepted as equal citizens in their communities and in media and politics.  

The unique thing about LDE is who actually runs it. This is the Representative Body made up of self advocates, families, and professionals. It’s the strength of their collective voice that I believe will change things for the better and will be the difference we’re all desperate to see. 

I’ve lived in England now (from Canada) for 15 years working in social care and have seen countless papers, frameworks, guidelines, standards and manifestos pass over my desk. It’s exhausting thinking about them and how little has really changed as a result. 

What is the 'Good Lives' project

But LDE have done (are doing) something different. ‘The Good Lives: Building Change Together’ framework actually stands a chance of being that difference. It’s been co-produced through real collaborative working by people with learning disabilities, their friends, families, and paid supporters and is still in its development. The more input it has, the stronger it will be and the greater chance we’ll have of creating real change so that people with learning disabilities are finally living the Good Life everyone dreams of. 

The framework brings together people’s thoughts and ideas about what it will take for everyone with learning disabilities to be able to live their good life. It is there for anyone who is interested.

LDE host it but they do not control it. It belongs to the community. And what’s the learning from all of those failed papers in the past?  That small steps matter, no-one needs permission to start to take action and that together we are stronger.

It is not an end point. It is not a report. It is a framework to start a debate and give ideas for action.

Here at SeeAbility, we’re starting to use the Good Lives framework in a number of ways:

  • It has given us some ideas for action and we’re working with people we support to use it as part of our own quality of life strategy.
  • Using it to shape our auditing tool to help identify if people we’re here to serve are living a Good Life.
  • Borrowing ideas of excellence from elsewhere so that we can get better in all that we do.

People with learning disabilities, who we support or are colleagues, have also commented on the new framework:

  • “Hurrah for change! Hurrah for more Good lives!  Hurrah for LDE!”
  • “I believe the good lives plan is a great way of showing how people can have a good life and show partnership working. This shows how LDE brings all of its members together and creates a bigger voice which is needed more than ever.”
  • “I really hope this is our time and that everything changes so that we all have a good life.”

And that, in short, is why I’m both a personal member of LDE and an organisational member, and it’s why I urge you all to engage with Good Lives. 

This stuff is important. In fact, at the moment, it’s easy to argue that it’s critical. Together we are stronger.’


Lisa Hopkins, CEO of SeeAbility and Learning Disability England Trustee

Easy read version of the Good Lives framework is available along with details on how to get involved.



To find out more about shifting the power back to people with a learning disability you can attend our free webinar on June 16th at 2pm.