Theresa May is well known for her love of shoes. But we think it’s time she tried on a new pair for size.

“We are asking you to take a day and walk in our shoes and see what a person with different complex needs has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.”

Sally, supported by Hft in Leeds

People we support say the people who run our country don’t give their hopes and concerns the same attention as those of people without disabilities.

Walk in our shoes logoAs a social care provider, we’ve seen that the voice of people with learning disabilities is often overlooked even when social care is part of the debate. An example of this is the upcoming Green Paper on social care, which only focuses on the elderly.

That’s why the people we support and Hft are calling on politicians to spend time with people with a learning disability, and hear what life is like for them.

“Take a walk in the lives of people with disabilities and see what we have to face.”

Becky, supported by Hft in Gloucestershire

So how’s the campaign going?

  • In May we organised a Thunderclap calling on Theresa May to ask her MPs to visit their local Hft service and find out what it’s like to #walkinourshoes. Over 100 people supported the Thunderclap across Facebook and Twitter, helping to spread the word to up to 70,000 others.
  • On Monday 7 June two members of Voices to be Heard went to Downing Street to hand deliver as ‘special delivery’ a pair of custom-made shoes to Theresa May, along with a letter providing information about our campaign. The shoes were decorated with the faces of people supported by Hft, as well as Hft’s signature purple and gold colours.

  • And on 18 July we received a response from Downing Street – take a look at the letter from Theresa May’s office below, along with a copy of our original letter.

Response from Thangam Debbonaire

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire MP
Official portrait of Thangam Debonnaire from Parliament UK is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Thangam Debbonaire is the MP for Bristol West.

She visited our Apsley House service in Bristol on 18 September 2018. She was the first Labour MP and the first MP to visit an Hft service as part of the Walk in our shoes campaign.

The issues discussed included Brexit and whether or not people with learning disabilities could work for MPs. Many members were concerned about Bristol Council scrapping free travel for disabled people.

We asked Thangam to submit a Parliamentary Written Question relating to cuts to concessionary bus fares, and the impact this is having upon adults with learning disabilities.

On 5 November 2018, Thangam asked:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what research his Department has undertaken on the effect of recent reductions to funding for concessionary bus passes on adults with (a) learning difficulties and (b) autism. 

On 14th November Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Buses and Taxis, answered:

“Funding to local authorities for concessionary travel is not provided in isolation, but as part of their Local Government Finance Settlement. This Formula Grant funding is not ring-fenced, which enables authorities to make spending decisions that more closely match local needs and circumstances.

Eligibility for the statutory concession on medical grounds is assessed by local authorities on a case by case basis, using the seven criteria set down in legislation and supported by the Department’s published guidance.

Local authorities also have the powers to offer concessions over and above the statutory minimum, for instance by extending the concession to residents who may not qualify under the statutory criteria.”

Download a copy of the letter presented to Theresa May alongside the 'Walk in our shoes' shoes

Read Downing Street's response to the Walk in our shoes campaign team

Walk in our shoes marks the first campaign to be run by Voices to be Heard to bring the issues that matter to them directly to the attention of MPs and other policymakers.