Involving young people
Is there anything that you can think of that you would like to see different, that would make a difference to you?
WECIL, the West of England Centre for Inclusive living in Bristol facilitates a young disabled peoples group called The Listening Partnership.
Just because we have disabilities doesn’t mean we’re different from everyone else. We have a right to be treated the same way as them. We can’t just be like pushed around just because we’re, so they say, we’re different. It’s like this group, it gives us a chance to be heard.
The Listening Partnership really it has two aims. It’s not your standard youth group because it’s about consultation with young disabled people. So it gives young disabled people a voice. Other organisations will come to Listening Partnership if they’ve got something that want to consult with young disabled people about. But then also it’s about developing skills, being with peers and having fun ultimately.
Hannah has taken part in The Listening Partnership and other groups at WECIL.
How important is it that Disabled People’s Organisations support younger disabled people?
It’s very important because sometimes you don’t just want to go to your parents. Sometimes you want an outsider advice or you want somebody to just explain something to you that you’re not sure about. You know if you’re struggling with being disabled like writing or reading or just generally, you can come to WECIL and nobody’s going to judge what you say.
Do you think it’s important that, that support comes from disabled adults?
Yeah. Because then you feel like you’re on the same page or the same type of person. You haven’t got somebody standing up or towering over you. It’s you and them, together and you can just say how you feel.
What do you think you’ve gained by getting involved in projects here?
Confidence. A lot of independence. Just choice. And I wouldn’t have gone to any of the places that I’ve gone to if it wasn’t for The Listening Partnership or WECIL's support.
In 2010 Hannah and Annie attended the launch of the Alliance for Inclusive Education’s report Pushing for Change. Pushing for Change explores young disabled people's views on leadership and the role of young disabled people in DPOs.
And I think through going to that conference made me understand a bit more about leadership and how to help my friends to gain their voice as well.
I think it was important for us because it helped us to focus on what we’re doing as an organisation for young disabled people, and how we’re promoting and supporting young disabled people to be leaders. It kind of focused our mind really. So when we came back it helped us to focus on looking at, who we had on the board, who we might be missing and certainly young people weren’t represented on the board. Which is why we asked Gabbi our vice chair to go and talk to The Listening Partnership group about what being a trustee involved.
How does trustees work?
How do trustees work?
We look at all the business that WECIL does and we discuss it and make decisions.
As a result of Gabbi going along to the our Listening Partnership group, one of the group members Emma has now joined our board this year. She applied to become a trustee and was successful. So we’re really delighted about that.
I think being a young person you can bring fresh ideas to the table. You can have a different perspective on certain issues. You can act as a voice for younger people. And that was important.
We do lots of induction but also we have a trustee that mentors other new trustees. So it was really important for us that Emma had a mentor, so that if there’s anything that she wants clarification on or wants help with she’s got a direct person on the board that can support her with that.
That could help with the UN project.
Disabled People’s Organisations are important because they allow disabled people to voice their issues, because otherwise a lot of disabled issues would just be ignored. If you’re passionate and you really believe that things need to be changed then one of the best ways to get your voice heard is to go through a Disabled People’s Organisation.
I think Emma getting involved with the trustees is a really good idea because she’s speaking for everybody at The Listening Partnership.
It was important for us because we need to make sure that all disabled people are included in our organisation and young and old. That was really important for us but also it was about us thinking about how do we make sure that the disabled people’s movement carries on. And that young disabled people know what their rights are and are a strong group for the future.