Kemi Badenoch, local MP for Saffron Walden, has taken up the offer to walk in the shoes of people with learning disabilities as part of a campaign encouraging political leaders to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face.
Kemi Badenoch met with seven adults supported by national disabilities charity, Hft, at its service in Ugley on Friday (21 June) to listen to their concerns and find out more about the issues that matter to them.
The MP responded to the charity’s Walk In Our Shoes campaign, which calls on politicians to visit their local Hft service. The initiative, launched last year, 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 to share their experiences with politicians and help shape future policy decisions that affect their lives.
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On the day, the MP 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 impacting their day-to-day lives. Among the issues raised were changes to disability benefits, accessing local leisure facilities and concerns about Brexit.
Lorna, who lives at an Hft service, said:
“I am very happy that Kemi came to see us today. We are worried that cuts are affecting us and people aren’t listening so it was good to meet our MP and have her listen to our concerns. We hope that Kemi will ask the questions we asked her to and hope this will help people with learning disabilities.”
Kemi Badenoch said:
“Meeting with and listening to the experiences of those who live with learning disabilities is an important step in understanding the challenges they face every day.
“I was impressed with the staff at Hft and the support and care they give to their residents and day service users. I would urge all MPs to get involved and support the Walk In Our Shoes campaign.”
People supported by Hft also asked Kemi Badenoch to raise a question in parliament about what the government is doing to ensure leisure facilities remained open and accessible to people with disabilities.
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 the latest MP to her local Hft service. We hope that other politicians will follow her 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.”
For more information on Walk In Our Shoes, visit: https://www.hft.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/walk-in-our-shoes/
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 Hertfordshire & Essex