Sir Ed Davey, local MP for Kingston and Surbiton, has taken up the offer to walk in the shoes of people with learning disabilities as part of a campaign encouraging political leaders to find out more about their lives and the challenges they face.
Ed met with adults supported by Hft, at its service in New Malden on Friday (8th February) to listen to their concerns and gain a better understanding of the issues that matter to them.
He is the first Liberal Democrat MP to respond to the charity’s Walk In Our Shoes campaign, which calls on politicians to visit their local Hft service. The initiative is led by the charity’s speak out group, Voices to Be Heard, who feel that their hopes and concerns are not given the same attention by political leaders as those of people without disabilities. The campaign aims to facilitate opportunities for people with learning disabilities to share their experiences with politicians and help shape future policy decisions that affect their lives.
Walk In Our Shoes launched in March with a thunderclap appeal enlisting public support to call on Theresa May to ask her MPs to spend time finding out more about the issues that matter to people with learning disabilities by visiting their local Hft service.
Ed was given a tour of the premises and took part in a question and answer session, where people supported by Hft had the chance to talk about the issues affecting their day-to-day lives. Among the concerns raised during the session were social care funding, long delays in accessing wheelchairs from the NHS and making trains more accessible to people with learning disabilities.
Philip, who uses Hft’s day services twice a week, agreed that politicians needed to do more listen to people with learning disabilities:
“I think it is very important that MPs listen to people like us. Ed was a very good listener and I am very glad that he came to see us today.”
Ed Davey said:
“It was great to visit Hft in New Malden and speak with both service users and staff. I will be campaigning on the issues we spoke about, including accessible transport, in Parliament over the coming months. We must do more to ensure that public services are accessible to everyone. ”
People supported by Hft also asked Ed Davey to raise a question in parliament about what the government is doing to ensure train companies have plans to make their services more accessible to people with learning disabilities and autism.
Billy Davis is Hft’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager. He helped to create the campaign which in June 2018 saw two members of the speak out group hand delivering a pair of custom-made shoes to Downing Street for the Prime Minister, along with a letter providing information about the campaign.
“We’re pleased to welcome our first Liberal Democrat MP to his local Hft service. We hope that other politicians will follow his example and take the opportunity to walk in the shoes of people with learning disabilities.
“Walk In Our Shoes offers the people supported by Hft a meaningful platform to raise awareness of the issues that matter to them. Ever since the launch of the campaign, the people we support have been eager to speak with politicians from across the parties about the issues that affect them.
“In Kingston and Surbiton, issues relating to accessible transport are a real concern. We look forward to seeing how Ed Davey takes this forward in parliament.”
For more information on Walk In Our Shoes, visit our campaign page.
Notes to editors
Hft is a national charity that creatively supports more than 2,200 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales to live the best life possible. Services range from residential care to supporting people to live independently in their own homes – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.
Established in 1962, Hft is funded in two ways: through local authorities, who fund vital support services, but also through donors, supporters and volunteers who enable us to find new ways to help more people to thrive rather than just get by.
For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk
Location: Hft Surrey