In November Dean and Jodie went to an online APPG. Dean is a member of the North Yorkshire Self-Advocacy group and Jodie supports the group. An APPG is an All Party Parliamentary Group where people from different parties work together on a particular issue. This one was about Covid-19.
Justin Tomlinson was introduced by Baroness Hollins. She explained that this is his second time in the role of Minister for Disabled People and he is currently leading the Covid work on the national strategy for disabled people as well as the upcoming green paper on disability benefits.
People were able to submit questions and Dean's question was one of the ones chosen.
Dean asked the minister: "We know that some people with a learning disability and or autism have not left their home since March because they are frightened, or don't have support to go out. What can be done to make sure people have the right support and don't feel isolated or forgotten?"
The response from the minister was:
"This is a major issue that I have seen in my own case work and this is why Ciara’s contribution was so important (Ciara Lawrence from Mencap had spoken earlier in the meeting) because it’s okay for me as minister to say “look it’s okay, have the confidence to go out” but I am not sure that I’ve got the persuasive skills to make a big difference. When information is more accessibly presented or shared, that is the trusted information.
I think for those individuals listening to Ciara’s view of what is happening will be seen as more trusted information that’s why we have to empower the stakeholders to give them the policies and information and let them share that."
Dean was pleased to have been able to ask his question. He said:
"I found the meeting interesting and helpful. I thought it was a good and positive thing that I was able to give my worries and concerns about people with autism and learning disabilities to the MP and Baroness. Hopefully, they'll be able to act on the information I've given to them and help make things better in the future for people with learning disabilities and autism."