Local families unite with Mencap Liverpool against big cuts

LIVERPOOL FAMILIES have been finding out how to fight for their rights, thanks to the ‘Big Cuts’ event organised by Mencap Liverpool last Wednesday.

More than 75 people who have a learning disability, or who care for someone who does, attended the all-day event where they gained invaluable advice on how to access support, and what their rights are, from leading lawyer and expert in community care law, Luke Clements, and the staff at Mencap Liverpool.

A lively question-and-answer session with Mr Clements and Mencap Liverpool’s Chief Executive Sarah Jones, gave guests the chance to voice their concerns about the cuts. Some of the issues addressed included changes to Merseytravel’s concessions policy, and whether the Independent Living Fund would continue to exist.

Sarah & Lois with Luke Clements and Mencap's Inclusion Advisers Mo, Darren & Alex

One local resident, aged 66, came to the event as she feared that the support she currently receives for her son – which allows him to enjoy social activities outside of his nursing home for a few hours each week – may be withdrawn as a result of the proposed cuts.

She said: “I am absolutely delighted with what I have learned at the Big Cuts event – it has been great to get expert help and to be told ‘this is what you need to do’.

“These are very worrying times. I really had to fight to get support for my son and now, if the proposed cuts are made official, it could all be taken away.

“In the past, we would have accepted whatever we were told by the authorities but, since coming here today, I’ve changed my attitude. I won’t sit back and accept what I am told – and I feel much more positive.”

The event also gave local people a chance to find out how Mencap Liverpool can support them in light of the proposed cuts, as well as meet and share their experiences with other people who are in a similar situation and understand what they are going through. A special workshop was held alongside the main event to give people with a learning disability the opportunity to find out how they can campaign for their rights, and the rights of others.

Luke Clements, who has written widely on improving the rights of people experiencing social exclusion, explained: “It is important that people with learning disabilities and carers are aware of their legal right to services. Local authorities may be struggling with financial difficulties but disabled people’s rights should still be met regardless of resources.

“Events like the Big Cuts are hugely important because they allow Mencap to hear the personal experiences of the people they support, which will help the charity get a stronger message across to the Government.”

Sarah Jones, Chief Executive for Mencap Liverpool, added: “It was great that so many people came to the event and were able to get some excellent advice – it highlights just how worried people are about the cuts.

“It was the potential impact of the cuts on every day lives that was the hardest hitting message of the day, so we know how effective it is to use personal stories in campaigning for our members’ rights. If you are affected by cuts to services or benefits you are not alone. Our voices are so much stronger when we join together – and we would encourage anyone who has strong concerns about the cuts to sign up and become a member of Mencap Liverpool.”

Mencap Liverpool is committed to campaigning for the rights of people with a learning disability to ensure they are acknowledged, respected and, most importantly, met. We are here to offer advice and support to those who need it. For more information on the proposed cuts, or to find out about how Mencap Liverpool can help you, please call Lois Nash on 0151 707 8582 or email lois.nash@mencapliverpool.org.uk

Date for your diary!
Two public meetings are being held, on Wednesday, May 4, to discuss Liverpool City Council’s plans to review the eligibility criteria for people who need adult social care. There will be an afternoon session, from 1pm-3pm, and an evening session, between 6pm-8pm. To book a place, or for more information, please contact the Liverpool Cares Team on 0151 233 4640 or 0151 233 4644, or email adultservicesconsultation@liverpool.gov.uk

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