Bedford man selected to attend first People’s Parliament

Tom Drake, representing Bedford people at Turning Point's People's Parliament. PNL-140212-110039001
Tom Drake, representing Bedford people at Turning Point's People's Parliament. PNL-140212-110039001

A Bedford man was selected to represent a charity that helps people with learning disabilities at the People’s Parliament in Birmingham.

Turning Point’s parliament gives those with learning disabilities a say in how services for them are run and address issues such as health, employment, travel and communication.

Service users from Turning Point’s Bedford base for learning disability nominated Tom Drake as a representative to attend the inaugural national People’s Parliament meeting.

Turning Point provides care, learning and support services for those with learning disabilities, in local authority areas across Britain, including in Bedfordshire.

Service users in each of Turning Point’s regions attend bi-monthly regional People’s Parliament meetings, at which they are able to air their thoughts and concerns about the services they use.

Staff are able to assist those who have difficulties in communicating, and the People’s Parliament meetings allow users of learning disability services to exert real influence upon how services for them are run.

Last month saw the first national People’s Parliament meeting. There, delegates shared their thoughts and those of their peers with senior Turning Point staff, including CEO Lord Victor Adebowale.

Key issues raised include those of health, employment, travel, and communication. Representatives discussed how changes to their services could help them tackle the challenges they face in these areas.

Community involvement

Another key objective of the People’s Parliament is to make it easier for people with learning disabilities to take an active role in their communities, and make sure that their voices are heard.

For example, Turning Point has recently supported Tom Drake to take up a voluntary position as a park ranger, and this has spurred other users of Turning Point services in Bedford to work towards and take up volunteering opportunities with the local parks authority.

Working Together

Discussing the involvement of service users in the development of their care, Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point said: “It should become the norm rather than the exception, we need to work together to make this a reality.”

Also at the event, Karen Flood, co-chair of the National Forum of People with Learning Disabilities said: “It’s been an honour to be invited to be here for this amazing day. Everyone is here today from Victor and the senior team to support workers to the people we support. It’s fantastic.”

>> Turning Point is a leading social enterprise providing health and social care services for people with complex needs in 200 locations across England and Wales, including community services, primary care settings, hospitals and prisons. For 50 years it has worked with those affected by drug and alcohol misuse, mental health conditions, offending behaviour, unemployment issues and people with a learning disability.

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