Hi readers, remember we talked about inviting guest writers? We haven’t hung about! This week please meet Kerry Martin, a friend of mine, sharing her views on a serious topic!

It’s Kerry here and thanks William for this opportunity to write about a subject important to me and many others too.

It’s about being able to speak up and be heard. What’s that then? Well, it can mean many different things, like knowing there’s a consultation about something which may affect you and how to take part. It may also mean being able to tell someone you are not happy about something.

Sometimes it is really hard to speak up, especially if you are unable to communicate verbally or need information in Easy Read. This is particularly true for people with learning disabilities. Through my work I have met numerous people, both locally and nationally, who struggle to take part and have their voices heard.

For example, if a decision is made locally or by government which will affect people with learning disabilities, it’s really important that the people it will affect have a chance to take part and share in discussions.

So that people with learning disabilities can be heard in Dorset, there is a Forum (funded by the local authority). This Forum feeds back to the local authority, and also into a regional forum, in turn feeding back to the National Forum (funded by the Department of Health).

As Chair of the National Forum and co-worker of the Dorset Forum, I get to hear what’s happening for people with learning disabilities around the country; many people struggling to get by, not feeling safe in their community or are lonely and isolated. There’s also still much misunderstanding generally about learning disability.

Next week please tune in to hear some worrying news about the National Forum.

The writers of the Our View column are supported in their editing by The Friendship Club– a project for adults with learning disabilities, run by People First Dorset