If not, but you would like to then these workshops, run by Dimensions are for you
Just 10% of people with learning disabilities supported by national support provider Dimensions voted in the last election – proof that people are still disengaged from the electoral system.
Dimensions is launching its Love Your Vote campaign to increase awareness and the number of people who vote, in a bid to engage people in helping to shape the future of their country and local communities. Working alongside the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, the campaign will involve a series of workshops starting in the autumn, open to the people supported by Dimensions and the wider learning disability community to explain the parliamentary process and how to vote.
In a recent survey of people supported by Dimensions, a not-for-profit provider of support for people with learning disabilities and autism, only 47 people out of 474 respondents said they voted in the last general election.
Steve Scown, Chief Executive for Dimensions, said this proves that people with learning disabilities and autism are not sufficiently aware of their right to vote or how to vote. He said: “It is essential for people to be engaged more with the electoral system – low turnouts among people we support is likely due to a lack of education on the subject rather than a lack of interest.
“Through this campaign, we want to ensure that people with learning disabilities and autism are provided with accessible information about their rights to make an informed choice about voting.”
The workshops will cover all aspects of Parliament and the electoral system. They will be held across the country using easy-read materials and presentations tailored to the target audience. Dimensions will be inviting people it supports to the sessions, as well as opening them up to the wider learning disability community.
As a national provider of support for about 3,000 people, Dimensions is one of the largest organisations specialising in learning disability and autism support, making it ideally placed to run the campaign and engage with the right people. Dimensions hopes more people with learning disabilities and autism will vote in the 2015 General Election as a result of its campaign.
Dan Weston of Sheffield, who has learning disabilities and is supported by Dimensions, hasn’t voted before because he didn’t know about the process. He said: “I am looking forward to learning more about Parliament and voting – I think people should vote. It’s important. I will go to a workshop and I hope to learn a lot.” Steve Scown adds: “I am so pleased that Dimensions, alongside Parliamentary Outreach, is able to lead the way in highlighting the importance of voting to people with learning disabilities and autism. The workshops will also teach people how to petition councillors about issues that affect them directly, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for their voice to be heard.
“It is shocking that so few people have used their opportunity to vote in the past and it is so important to ensure people know all about their voting rights. The rights of people with learning disabilities and autism should never be marginalised and I really hope this campaign will help people to understand the voting system further and be encouraged to participate in making future decisions for this country.”
Clare Cowan, Head of Public Information and Outreach at Houses of Parliament Outreach Service, said, “It’s important that people understand the work and relevance of Parliament and how to make their voice heard about the issues which matter to them. Parliament Outreach has developed resources for helping adults with learning disabilities understand how Parliament works and we’re delighted to be involved with Dimensions in delivering this series of workshops engaging people with the Parliamentary process.”
The campaign also aims to inform people how to lobby their local MP about issues that affect their lives and demonstrate what impact lobbying has. The organisation is keen to educate people about voting to help them further with personalising their support and lobby MPs about what would help them in the social care sector.
The workshops around the country are scheduled to begin in the autumn and places need to be booked in advance. Anybody interested in attending a workshop should contact Dimensions on firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Dimensions, August 2013