Stephen Williams Brandon TrustPeople with learning disabilities say they want more support to meet new people and play an active role in the community. 

This was one of the main conclusions from learning disability charity Brandon Trust’s ‘100 Voices’ conference, which was held at the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal Football Club, on September 6, and involved more than 200 people and their support workers.

Having a greater sense of freedom and personal control over their lives was one of the main themes from the day, with many people indicating that this was something they were already experiencing with the help of Brandon Trust. But delegates also said they would like more support to meet new people, take part in new activities and hobbies and seek work opportunities.  

Stephen Williams (pictured), who lives in supported living in Bristol run by Brandon Trust and also works at one of the charity’s community cafes, said: “It’s been a great day. It’s good to be listened to. I feel like I have a say in how things work and what I do.”

Brandon Trust’s chief executive, Lucy Hurst-Brown, added: “It was fantastic to get so many of the people we support in one place to hear direct from them what they are proud of, what they want to see more of and what they would like to change or improve.

“Many people taking part expressed a clear desire for freedom and self-determination – which are core values for us at Brandon Trust. They also said they want more support to meet new people and build meaningful relationships. 

“These conclusions are hugely valuable in informing our work moving forward and ultimately to help reach Brandon Trust’s long-term goal of making paid support a last resort.”

100 Voices’ specially created programme was designed to help people with learning disabilities express their views in a friendly, supportive and inspiring environment. All input has been recorded and will help inform the charity’s work both in terms of service provision and in influencing government policy and support.