I wouldn’t have had any of the success I have had without advocacy.
Applying for jobs. Applying for a passport. Using technology. Building relationships. Building confidence. Building resilience. These are all things that most of us take for granted. But there are some people for who these things do not come as easily.
Ian Harper, Service Quality Director for Aspire Living, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger from Great Britain, and former Chair of the Athlete Leadership Team for Special Olympics Great Britain, tells us how advocacy has opened him up to numerous possibilities in life:
I reassessed my whole ethos. When you have a learning disability you’re told you’d be lucky to be stacking shelves. Advocacy groups showed me there’s a bigger picture than the reality that had been forced on me. People who can see that can break up the rulebook and live the lives they want.
Ashley Barker, Quality Assessor for The Quality Company sees advocacy as a way to level the board across society and give everyone the same opportunities.
Advocacy gives people the chance to have a voice for what they want, but also more importantly what they need. It comes to the fact that whatever illness, disability, able-bodied or not, everyone is entitled to a choice. Everyone should have advocates who push them to live their own lives.
To Ashley, advocacy not only benefits people with a learning disability, but society as a whole. He explains that whilst there are some things that people with a learning disability need extra support to do, by providing that support you open the door for them to do many other wonderful things:
I’m a big believer that just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I can’t climb up a career ladder and experience new opportunities. Last year I became a Restore2 trainer (link) and help people communicate better with healthcare professionals. It saves lives.
Advocacy helps people like Ashley and Ian to get the opportunity to live the lives that they choose. These experiences has led them to be in key roles within Thera Group, using their lived experience of a learning disability and their experiences in advocacy to support others with a learning disability to live the life they choose.
To learn more about how Ian Harper supports people visit www.aspireliving.org.uk.
To learn more about how Ashley Barker supports people visit www.thera.co.uk/about/companies/the-quality-company.