Hi, Kerry here again, talking more about the National Forum. If you didn’t catch last Tuesday’s article, please do go back and read it (see the Dorset Echo website under ‘Our View’).

The National Forum is an important platform, where the views of people with learning disabilities across the country are fed back to government. All its members have a learning disability and are democratically elected by other people with learning disabilities across the country, making it very representative. Its role is listening, doing and sharing.

I think it’s important to have both national and local forums so the voices of people with learning disabilities can be heard and consulted about decisions which affect our lives.

The National Forum, which exists alongside the National Valuing Families Forum (NVFF), works with large health and social care organisations like the NHS. Working together creates a more powerful voice and can help make important positive changes happen. For example, the National Forum helped write the Green Paper, ‘No voice unheard, No right ignored’.   

But I’m worried. The National Forum and NVFF funding stops after March. This means there will no longer be a central place where people with learning disabilities and their families can consult with government and health bodies, or hold them to account. I think this decision is very wrong. It’s another way the voices of people with learning disabilities will be lost. Like, who will follow up on the Green Paper now?

The National Forum and NVFF have been campaigning to keep the funding. In Dorset we have started a petition asking the Department of Health to review their decision. If you value the voices of people with learning disabilities, and think we should continue to be heard, please support us by signing our petition. Here is a link to it http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/dorset-novoice.  Every voice and vote counts. Thank you.

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