Learning Disability Advocacy

Advocacy Western Isles provides one to one issue based Advocacy and non-instructed Advocacy for people with learning disabilities and also provides Group Advocacy for people with learning disabilities.

The Speak Out Group formerly known as the Stand Up for Yourself Self Advocacy Group have met with Advocacy Western Isles since 2006. The Speak Out Group are a well-established advocacy group of adults with learning disabilities who get together at least once per month (Wednesday afternoons) to deal with issues in the community that concern people with learning disabilities and that are of interest to people with learning disabilities. Over the years they have dealt with such matters as;

Consultation for the new Loch Seaforth Ferry

The Stand Up For Yourself Self Advocacy Group has been involved with consultation about the new Loch Seaforth ferry. Andrew Duncan, Director of Vessels of Caledonia Maritime Assets Ltd and his Colleagues visited the Group and took away an extensive list of suggestions that may make trips on the ferry easier for people affected by disability. Members of the Group met again with Caladonia MacBrayne representatives and Mr Duncan in November and were heartened and delighted to feed back to the whole group that their list was referred to in detail at this second meeting, showing that some suggestions had been implemented and were still been worked on.

Blue Badge Criteria

The Blue Badge Scheme is designed to help disabled people to access parking to reach a destination either as a driver or a passenger. The group has contributed their views to a document compiled by AWI with the local ENABLE group in response to Transport Scotland’s request for further information on any potential extension to the eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge Scheme to include people as a result of a diagnosed mental disorder, have little or no awareness of danger from traffic.

Health Consultations regarding what would make accessing hospital services better for people with learning disabilities and consultation on health leaflets for x-rays and scans that are used for all including people with a learning disability.

Current work involves what does the new island Bill mean for people with learning disabilities and working for better services throughout the Western Isles for people with disabilities.

The Speak Out Group also have a hugely successful training project called the SMILE Project

The SMILE Project

(See Me I want to Live Equally). Through the SMILE Project the Speak Out Group offer training presentations where they tell people what they think is best for people with learning disabilities. To do this the group use Forum Theatre and audience participation where they invite the audience to work with them and participate in tasks such as a Quiz and they act out Scenarios where they ask the audience what is wrong in the scenario and what could be done to make it better.            

The Speak Out Group has three training/presentation packages that they are now able to offer;

  • Health Focus – all about accessing health services.
  • A Stitch in Time – all about receiving a health service.
  • A Trio of Scenarios – all about communication with people with learning disabilities.

The SMILE Project presentations/training has received being done to great acclaim and the Speak Out Group have received extremely positive feedback/evaluations for their SMILE Project work;

“Many people art the end of the conference and those who have been in touch with me today made a special mention of the SMILE Project presentation and how special it was. I think that the SMILE Group did a brilliant job in getting their message to the audience and entertained everyone with your quiz and your jokes. Thank you for all the laughs. You put a big smile on everyone’s face and left a smile on everyone’s mind too – they will remember you and the message you gave them. Many, many thanks to all of you for making our conference that much more special. You did a great job!”    

“Just wanted to thank you for inviting the student nurses to this event, those that attended were raving about it this morning. They really enjoyed it and stated that there was a need for this type of thing to be added in to their course as they don’t really get very much about learning disabilities.”

“The group have put across a very powerful message.”

“I thought the SMILE Project training was one of the best training events I have attended. It was very well organised, good interaction with the audience and superb effort from the group members. Two hours flew by!”

“I love it. It’s good to know their perspective on things and the fact they are acting it out is very good. It’s opened my eyes a wee bit more as to how they are seeing things in hospital.”       

What are human rights?

The foundation statement of human rights law is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Its famous preamble states that:

‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’

Everyone, everywhere, has basic rights and freedoms which we need to live together with dignity based on our common humanity.  These human rights are secured in law.

The law applies to everyone equally and provides an important means of protection for the most vulnerable in our communities, including those who use advocacy services, by setting out the duties owed by those responsible for upholding human rights and the outcomes people are entitled to expect as a matter of right.

Human rights include civil and political rights, such as:

  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to freedom of religion or conscience
  • The right to property
  • The right to freedom of assembly
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to life
  • The right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • The right to vote

Human rights also cover economics and social rights, such as:

  • The right to an adequate standard of living
  • The right to adequate food, housing, water and sanitation
  • The rights you have at work
  • The right to health
  • The right to education

Source: Scottish Human Rights Commission