I have always been passionate about making sure that people with learning disabilities have genuine choice and control over their own lives. As a support worker 20 years ago, I saw first-hand that peoples' day-to-day lives can easily be controlled by the organisations who care for them. This institutional behaviour can range from being mildly disempowering to highly coercive and abusive. The only time I have ever cried watching TV was the Panorama documentary about Winterborne View. Sadly the abuse of people with learning disabilities has not gone away. I want to contribute towards making all care services better, safer and more inclusive.
I found a home at People First Dorset for 15 years, where I worked with self-advocates to make Easy Read information, to "Quality Check" a wide range of services (day services, supported living and residential care), and to run a Learning Disability Forum. I also developed and delivered accessible training courses on topics like Total Communication, Safeguarding and Learning Disability Awareness, mostly with people with learning disabilities as co-presenters.
I'm a musician too, and one of the highlights of my career has been running music workshops with Laura Cousins, for people with complex needs. Every single session was crammed with "lightbulb moments", where people who ordinarily have no power over their lives, owned the room, directed music, and made their own compositions. It was brief but incredible. You can read the report here.
I am now privileged to work at Dorset Advocacy as a Development Manager, alongside our team of talented and experienced Advocates who ensure that people's voices are heard. I am currently working on strategy, impact measurement, fundraising and communications. This means that Easy Read work is part-time for me, so ordering your information and training ahead of time is a good idea!
I am registered as a sole trader for tax purposes, and can issue quotes and invoices to your organisation.