More than 70 MPs met people with a learning disability and their families from across the UK recently to listen to their experiences and talk about their concerns over welfare cuts and other issues.
At the event, organised by Mencap as part of Learning Disability Week, MPs were paired with someone who has a learning disability on entrance, and had a chance to listen to their story as well as talk about the change they want to see over the next five years.
In addition, MPs heard from Vijay Patel, 27, who has a learning disability and works for Mencap, on his concerns over the Government’s proposed £12 billion cuts to welfare.
MPs were also encouraged to follow through on the pre-election promises they made to Mencap’s Hear My Voice campaign. More than 800 candidates pledged support to the campaign in the run-up to the election, and 151 of those were elected as MPs – meaning more than a fifth of the new Parliament has pledged to listen more attentively to people with a learning disability.
“Unfortunately I feel that many politicians don’t listen to people with a learning disability,” said Patel. “This needs to change and it was important to see MPs take time to come to this event and speak face-to-face to people with a learning disability about their hopes and concerns for the next five years.
“For me my main concern for the next five years is about welfare cuts. I get Disability Living Allowance, which is really important. It’s important because I am trying to save money for the future to live independently. I hope politicians can listen to people with a learning disability and involve us in their decisions, as we are sometimes the people who feel their effects first.”
Jan Tregelles (pictured), chief executive of Mencap, added: “With over a fifth of newly elected MPs having pledged support to Hear My Voice the voice of learning disability should be louder than ever. Giving new MPs a chance to meet face-to-face and discuss the concerns of people with a learning disability so early on in their term is hugely encouraging.
“It’s vital to bring about the change in attitudes we’re fighting for that the decision-makers in society are aware of the challenges faced by people with a learning disability. With the support of these newly elected MPs, we hope the lives of the people we support will remain firmly in their minds over the next five years.”