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Learning disability campaigner spends day shadowing Ed Balls MP
Tuesday 10 July 2012
The Shadow Chancellor and MP for Morley and Outwood has been shadowed by learning disability campaigner Susan Hanley
Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor and MP for Morley and Outwood, has just helped one of his constituents with a learning disability to fulfil a personal ambition by inviting her to shadow him for the day.
Susan Hanley met Ed recently and asked if she could shadow him to find out what it is like to be an MP. Ed thought it was a great idea, so on Friday 6 July, Susan enjoyed a whirlwind day with him, meeting elderly residents at a local care home and attending a meeting with other MPs in Wakefield. Finally they came back to Morley for a public meeting about local policing.
Susan was given the chance to speak about the upcoming Police & Crime Commissioner elections, explaining why people need to speak up about their concerns and why she wants the police to help people with a learning disability feel safe in future. Mencap is calling on all candidates to commit to making tackling disability hate crime a priority in their area.
Susan Hanley says:
‘'So many people with a learning disability want to work and have job ambitions. Ed made my dream come true, I will never forget it. I hope it inspires others to offer people with a learning disability similar opportunities.
"It was such an exciting day and Ed made me feel part of the team. I hope it gives other people with a learning disability the confidence to meet their local MPs and councillors. They are there to help us all."
Morley and Outwood MP, Ed Balls says:
"Morley is full of great people, but Susan Hanley has got to be one of our nicest residents. She's an active campaigner for Mencap and the Leeds learning disability forum Tenfold, but she's also really interested in politics and wanted to find out about what it's like being an MP. So I was delighted to have Susan shadow me so she could find out what a day as the MP for Morley and Outwood is like.
"We had my usual hectic day of appointments and meetings. From Knowle Manor care home for the elderly in Morley to a meeting with NHS chiefs in Wakefield. We then went to a packed public meeting to talk about proposed changes to local policing. Susan has done some of her own work on policing. She wants to make sure whoever is elected as the Police and Crime Commissioner for our area protects people with disabilities, including people with a learning disability. She shared her views with everyone there, just as an MP would.
"Susan took everything in her stride. In fact, she was so relaxed about my day I'm a bit worried she might want my job. Come what may it was a great to spend the day with her. We're writing to the head of Mencap now too to see if we can encourage other MPs to involve people with learning difficulties more in their work."
Susan is the co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board in Leeds. She also does a lot of campaigning with Mencap and the Leeds learning disability forum, called Tenfold, and started doing work on democracy with them about 18 months ago. Since then, she has also met Mr Speaker, John Bercow – and written to him about getting people with a learning disability more involved in government – and she helped pull together a campaigning group who went to meet the Leeds MPs at Westminster last year. She has just co-chaired a takeover of the Council Chamber at Leeds City Council for Learning Disability Week, at which the Lord Mayor of Leeds generously invited her to swap seats and run the meeting from her ceremonial chair.
Recently, she and the campaigning group met their MPs in Leeds again to talk to about the End the Care Crisis campaign, and this is how her opportunity to shadow Ed came about.
Notes to editors
For further information please contact Pasca Lane at the Mencap press office – firstname.lastname@example.org, 0207 696 6017.
- About Mencap
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
We are also one of the largest providers of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. People with a learning disability and their carers can find out more about our services by calling Mencap Direct on 0300 333 111 or by visiting www.mencap.org.uk
- What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people.
The level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability.