We are dedicated to supporting people we work together with to be empowered to actively take part in a variety of projects and initiatives.
We wrote a report for the National Advocacy Conference in 2015 which considers when participation becomes co-production. As independent advocacy organisations our role in enabling the move from limited involvement to co-production has required us to look at how we work. Co-production requires an ongoing commitment to work in equal partnerships that values all partners. As advocacy organisations we need to separate our role and voice as organisations from the role of enabling self advocates to co-produce.
Choices Advocacy are working in partnership with Dorset People First and researchers from the University of Southampton. We have formed the Southampton Platform for Inclusive Research & Ideas Together. The platform is a way for us to all work together and make sure that we are researching WITH people with learning disabilities and not about them. We had a launch event in May, where self advocates shared their experiences alongside research colleagues Dr Andrew Power, Val Williams (Norah Fry Centre), Steve String (NDTi), Tammy Flook (Gloucester Voices) & self advocates from Nordic Learning Disability Network. We are thinking about the research topic we want to look at next and planning our future events.
We have been working with Dr Andrew Power to support self advocates to work as co-researchers. The research looked at “Getting together and supporting each other through the cutbacks: How peer-advocacy can help”. The research showed how people with learning disabilities are using peer-advocacy to get by and support each other at a time when services are being affected by cuts. Despite the potential for peer-advocacy, the speakers also talked about how these groups are at risk of cuts themselves and need to be recognised and supported. The research found that people like coming along to meet new people, sort out problems and learn new things. The research was published in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities 2016.
Children in Need fund the SAY group in Fareham and Gosport, SAY Romsey and SAY@Itchen College for young people aged 16-18 yrs. We think it is important that young people have the chance to speak up and be listened to. The groups have been talking about what is important to them, for example, jobs, relationships, what makes a good support worker, where we want to live and the things we want in the future. The groups have been invited to be involved in lots of different work across Hampshire, like the Local Offer and Transforming Care Plan. We have been thinking about new ways to share the information with everyone to make sure we can tell as many people as possible about what we think!