My name is Tony and I am co-chair of the Mencap Cymru committee. I used be someone who would sit at the back of the room and not take part, but I have more confidence now. The committee supports Mencap Cymru to decide how they work in Wales, looking at the campaigns and issues that are important to people with a learning disability and their families and carers.
Mencap Cymru's district support officer Sue Edwards has helped me to develop my skills. With the other co-chair my role is to make sure meetings run on time. I am quite a laid back person, but I hate time-wasting in meetings!
The last committee meeting was in Learning Disability Week at the National Assembly for Wales. The event celebrated Mencap Cymru's successes in changing policy in Wales since the National Assembly was set up in 1999. I gave a speech. I was fine with it as I didn't have too much to say, I have done a lot longer and more difficult speeches. I'm more confident now – I like speaking out about things and meeting the people who make decisions about our lives.
In the past Sue would always pick me up by car for meetings and events. But now I've had some travel training I can get the train to Cardiff by myself. I would never have done that before. I have also been to the north of Wales on a plane. It was my first time on a plane and now I am always asking if I need to fly anywhere else.
I have been looking for a job for a while, it isn't easy to find work when you have a learning disability. Sue and I have talked about what I might be good at, she thinks I would make a good security guard, checking people's ID and things like that. I like things to be right, in order.
In my spare time I am a big fan of bingo. I like all sorts of music, especially Irish folk and country and western. I recently went to my first real gig but it was a bit dark and loud for me. I wouldn't go to one again I don't think. I also like good food especially a good cheese, and good company. I have a lot of opportunities to go out with my Gateway club and meet up with my friends there.
Through my work with the committee I have met the First Minister Rhodri Morgan and some of the Assembly Members for Wales including the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas. We met with him for questions over dinner. One question was 'who is the most difficult AM to keep in order'? He told us who it was, but I couldn't possibly say!
I also met the Countess of Wessex at the Senedd earlier this year (pictured). I was nervous before her visit and then my co-chair's flight was cancelled so I was sort of on my own. But Mencap Cymru staff reassured me and everything was fine. I had a good time and she was very friendly.
I have worked on different campaigns, like the Treat Me Right! campaign for people with a learning disability to get the healthcare they need. I was part of a team that gave training to doctors on how they need to communicate with a person with a learning disability.
As a result of the campaign the Welsh Assembly now pays for free annual health checks for all people with a learning disability in Wales. This is a world first which makes me very proud.
I would like to continue on the committee and hope to have more chances to speak out, to make sure people with a learning disability are treated fairly and have chances to do the things they want in their lives.
- Find out more about Mencap's work in Wales