Last week I met with several members of SpeakEasy N.O.W. during their visit to the Guildhall.
SpeakEasy celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022. The group was created to give people with a learning disability the opportunity to speak up about things that make life difficult for them and to flag the things that need to change. It brings together people from across the county to gather views and opinions and to bring these issues to the attention of the local authority.
Like many third sector organisations, they often fill service gaps that used to be provided by statutory organisations. Despite financial constraints SpeakEasy continues to run a network of Speak Up groups across Worcestershire, these feed into monthly Forum meetings and various project groups such as Health Checkers and the People’s Parliament. To their credit they lead by example and maintain their user-led philosophy with a management committee comprised entirely of their members and a Board of Trustees which includes people with a learning disability.
By supporting people to speak up they achieve many things:
- increasing people’s confidence and self- esteem, giving people a sense of purpose and recognising the individual value that each of them has to offer.
- they help people develop knowledge and skills that can lead to paid employment.
- they offer paid roles within their own organisation for people with a learning disability
- they provide opportunities for social networking, helping people to develop and maintain friendships and receive peer support. This helps address the loneliness and isolation that affects many people with disabilities.
- they provide accessible information on a huge variety of topics including maintaining physical and mental health, managing finances, keeping safe and accessing their communities.
SpeakEasy provide both learning disability awareness training and an Easy Read service to help organisations become more accessible and improve the quality of services they deliver. More information can be found on their website at www.speakeasynow.org.uk