The Love Your Vote campaign has found that support workers need more guidance about the voting process in order to help inform people with learning disabilities and autism about their role in politics.
The campaign, which has seen 750 people with learning disabilities attend workshops about politics since October last year, has said lack of education for support workers is key with many not knowing that people they supported were entitled to vote.
Anastasia Jenkins, Public Affairs Officer at Dimensions, who work in partnership with the Houses of Parliament on the campaign, said: “Our workshops are aimed at increasing the numbers of people with learning disabilities who vote. People who have been on the sessions are more enthused and informed about Parliament. It is so important for people with learning disabilities to be involved in making decisions in their country – by using their vote they truly can have their say.
“But it’s also important to make sure that support staff know how to support people with learning disabilities to vote. They are key in terms of encouraging people with learning disabilities to make the choice to vote or not and so need to be fully aware of the political system.”
So far, more than 40 workshops have been held supporting 750 people, with about 20 different learning disability organisations involved. Many people supported by Dimensions have also attended. Workshops are still available and can be directly booked for groups.
Sharon Stanley, Outreach Officer for adults with learning disabilities at the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, added: “Participating in parliamentary democracy is an important way for people with learning disabilities to ensure their voices are heard. We hope that workshops like these will inspire more people with learning disabilities to get involved and make sure their views are represented.”
In the last few months, as part of the campaign, ‘Ask Your Question’ sessions have been held across the country in which MPs have met people Dimensions supports, so they can directly ask about issues that affect them.
Steve Scown, Chief Executive of Dimensions, said: “It’s great to see how many people have benefitted from this campaign already and to see what a difference it is making to them. People with learning disabilities need to be heard and to be part of their community. Part of that is ensuring they know how they can participate in society and in the democratic process.
“To be able to educate people in this way is really inspiring and I look forward to the next stages of the campaign.”