My Vote My Voice at Parliament
By Michelle Lloyd
We were very excited to be invited to Westminster by the All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) for a My Voice Matters event hosted by the My Vote My Voice (MVMV) Campaign. MVMV is on a mission to encourage people with learning disabilities and autism to vote in the 2024 general election.
We were very pleased to be a part of the campaign and to hear from some very passionate self-advocates and individuals with lived experience of autism and learning disabilities who had the opportunity to speak to MPs from all parties.
We were sat on the table with Marion Fellows, a member of the Scottish National Party who was there to show her party's support for the campaign. She was very interested in the work of KeyRing and enjoyed having a chat and a cake with David, a KeyRing Member from Bexley. We were also very lucky to have Rachel Dodgson CEO of Dimensions, and also a KeyRing trustee, who was there to support self-advocates on the panel from Dimensions on our table.
On the panel were representatives from Mencap, Dimensions and self-advocates sharing their lived experience of voting. Answering questions were the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work Tom Pursglove MP and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Vicky Foxcroft MP.
The panel then discussed inclusivity for voting amongst the learning disabled and autistic community. There was lots of time spent talking about making voting more accessible and some of the barriers and challenges that individuals in the room and friends and family faced when voting.
We talked about not enough time being allowed for individuals to get sight of easy read manifestos ahead of local and national elections, the issues with photo ID and individuals at the polling stations not understanding the needs of those with disabilities when it came to accessibility. One of the panel with lived experience talked about wanting to get into standing for election themselves giving disabled voices’ greater representation in politics but, how near impossible this was made.
Everyone was very passionate about the rights of individuals with autism and a learning disability to vote and what this meant to them.
It was a great first experience for David and I attending Westminster and to hear the passionate voices of those with lived experience who wanted to vote and how important it was to them and how it is a democratic human right to do so which was being denied them.
We look forward to hearing how the MVMY campaign progresses and look forward to sharing what we have learnt amongst KeyRing Members in the coming months.