My name is Mary Woodall. I live in a Supported Living Service in Care Management Group and I am a member of a self-advocacy group for people with Learning Disabilities and Autism called ‘Campaign 4 Change’.
I heard about the group when I moved into CMG a couple of years ago. It was then called ‘Service User Parliament’ and I knew of two other people who were involved. I became interested to join and a few months later I had a meeting with Dan (Quality Support Manager) about what I will be doing in the group. I wanted to speak out for others in CMG and wanted to help people in my local region.
As a self-advocate I think I am a good listener, although people tell me I need to listen more. I am good at talking to people, I work well in a team and I am thoughtful and caring.
Currently C4C are working on #mindyourlanguage campaign, which is about how people are spoken to and about in supported living and residential house environment. We believe that people who work with people with Learning Disabilities should be more supportive and respectful with their language. For example, you wouldn’t call someone in a residential home who can eat orally a ‘feeder’. Even if that person can’t understand, it is not a respectful word to use about somebody, however it does happen. Other campaigns that C4C members work on include raising awareness of Hate Crime towards people with Learning Disabilities and Autism, improving the environment in their local area, and people’s right to ‘Stay Up Late’ at events, parties and their own homes.
I campaign for the environment in my local area. I want the council to put a pedestrian crossing on the local main road. I did a petition and collected more than a hundred signatures, interviewed my neighbours, met with the local MP and submitted the petition to the council. I believe my petition would help less able and vulnerable people (such as disabled people, elderly people, pregnant ladies and children) in my area to cross an extremely busy road. I’ve had a lot of support from my neighbours. I am especially grateful to those who agreed to participate in my video interview and put me in touch with my local MP.
I also spoke at CMG QA meeting with the board members and regional directors about what people they support would like to see improved within the company. I am also holding quarterly Peer Forums to give other people supported by CMG the opportunity to express their views. I believe people supported by care organisations should be able to speak out and have their voices heard, so that the care they receive is to a high standard, person centred and led by people being supported. I’ve had a lot of great feedback from other people within CMG and events about the work that we do within C4C.
I also participate in external groups and events across the UK, such as ‘Ideas Collective’, ‘Supported Loving Network’, various focus groups for people with Learning Disabilities, LDE and LDT conferences and such campaigns as ‘Solve Sleep-ins’. I have made many new contacts and was able to promote C4C outside of our organisation. As a result of all my hard work I was one of the finalists in National Autism and Learning Disability Awards 2018, which I am very proud of.
I enjoy what I do because it is rewarding to be helping other people with disabilities, like myself, or other people in the community. I get a lot of experience from it and I get to meet lots of different people. In the future I plan to continue working in C4C and hopefully making a difference in the lives of others.