The Big Issue
Ever since the beginning of deinstitutionalisation in the 1960s, organisations like Grace Eyre have been aspiring to support the wider societal inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and/or autism. Whilst there has been a push since the self-advocacy movements of the 1990s to not just support inclusion but to give a platform to marginalised voices, it still feels like we are a way off of achieving equality.
Who deserves to be equal?
The consistent societal focus on people with Learning Disabilities and/or autism to gain independence above all else illustrates that we still think that for people to fit the criteria for deserving equality, they should be able to cook, clean and ultimately have a job. It’s often thought that until they do, service providers and other stakeholders will have the power to decide on what is and isn’t best for them. At Grace Eyre, we realise that in reality people with Learning Disabilities and/or autism may always need support to do these things and this is okay – that’s what we’re here for! We understand that the real measure of equality is people’s rights, choice and control over their lives.
To achieve people’s rights, choice and control over their lives, people who use our services should also have a say in the running of these services. This is where co-production comes in. Co-production is the equal participation of people with Learning Disabilities and/or autism, parents, carers and professionals in designing, delivering and monitoring these services. This dissolves the power dichotomy that often exists between service provider and service user. It creates a level playing field in which everyone gets to equally participate. It respects that the people who know best about how to be supported are the people receiving that support.
Image: Coalition for Collaborative Care
What can you do?
- If you are someone with a Learning Disability and/or autism who wants to be more involved in the Grace Eyre Foundation, get in touch – we would love to work with you!
- If you are a someone who supports a person with a Learning Disability and/or autism and would like to know more about Co-production, request training via your manager or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Remember, actively listening to peoples wants and needs and working together to achieve them is the most important part of co-production.
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Cleo Dibb, Our Voices Manager