My name is Bryony. I’m 25 and have cerebral palsy right hemiplegia and a learning disability A learning disability is to do with the way someone's brain works. It makes it harder for someone to learn, understand or do things. . I am also a new member on the Mencap Voices Council. The Voices Council The Mencap Voices Council A council is also called a local authority A local authority is also called a council. They are a group of people who make decisions about some of the things in the area where you live like schools, social care Social care means the services that give care and support to people who need it. (support for people), parks and dustbin collection. . They are a group of people who make decisions about some of the things in the area where you live. These include: schools, social care (support for people), parks and dustbin collection. are a group of 12 people with a learning disability. They share their views and experiences to help Mencap's Board of Trustees make decisions. is a group of 12 people with a learning disability. We have a chair and vice chair who lead the group. We all live in different areas across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Everyone on the Voices Council can be members for 4 years.
We share our thoughts and experiences with Mencap’s board of trustees to support them to make decisions. Some of us may be involved with our local Mencap groups or supported by Mencap. We think it is important to have people with all different types of learning disability in our groups and to have people of all ethnicity so we can be as diverse and inclusive as possible!
The group meets four times a year at Mencap’s head office and we also have meetings online using Microsoft Teams. At each meeting, the group will have an agenda An agenda is a list of things to talk about at a meeting. in which we will discuss topics that affect people with a learning disability. For example, campaigns lead by Mencap such as Myth A myth is an idea about something that is not true. Busters, safeguarding, health care and supported housing. We also discuss “ standing items” This is where we have a topic which we talk about at all of our main meetings. Our standing items are quality, Mencap’s services, and equality Equality is when everyone is treated fairly. , diversity Diversity means people from all different cultures and backgrounds. and inclusion. Sometimes this changes
Our chair and vice chair will feedback our thoughts on the topics discussed in our meetings to the board of trustees, as well as attending trustees meetings. An update from those meetings will be fed back to all our members. Sometimes our chair and vice chair will take along work we have done, for example recently they talked about a paper on mental health we had prepared.
One member from the Executive Team will always come to our meetings. At least one trustee will be present in our main meetings. We are supported by Khaleel Desai, who is the Executive Director of Governance. We also offer support for others who do not work for Mencap. This could be other organisations or charities.
The Voices Council is important as it gives people with a learning disability a voice. You can share your lived experiences and turn negative experiences into positives and positive experiences can grow to become more positive. It’s a place where your voice is not only listened to, but action is taken to help make change in society for people living with a learning disability.
We are always looking for new members to share their experiences, make positive change and bring fresh new ideas to the group!