In this week’s final blog by our political correspondent David Allkins, he writes about how his role as part of Every Vote Counts has seen him travelling across the country to interview MPs and candidates ahead of the 2015 General Election. Here, David reflects on to what extent he feels his work has positively impacted upon the people we support and the wider disabled community.

Making my reports with United Response has led me to meet all sorts of high-powered people, from Nikki Fox, the BBC’s disability correspondent with muscular dystrophy, to MP David Blunkett and also parliamentary candidate Emily Brothers, who both have visual impairments.

If people like them can have their physical disadvantages recognised and accommodated in their careers, then those with autism should have the same treatment.

From Westminster to St Austell

Filming has taken me to a wide range of locations. There was the launch of the Labour Party’s Disability Manifesto at the National Power Grid in London, which was made of metal and glass, and the interior rose up in circular floors. I remember walking over a bridge on the South Bank to catch a train and getting to see the view of the Thames.

In Manchester, I visited the Delamere Toy Library, where we interviewed a candidate. The room in which we spoke had an alcove that was decorated with planet stickers that glowed in the dark.

Locally, I dashed back and forth around Cornwall to interview the candidates standing for Newquay and St Austell. At one point, I was invited into the BBC Radio Truro studio to speak about Every Vote Counts.  Towards the end of one filming session, I even interviewed a parliamentary candidate in my living room!

My achievements as political correspondent

On Monday, United Response will publish feedback on voter numbers among the people it supports to conclude Every Vote Counts, and I feel that I have achieved a lot in promoting the campaign.

I have had personal messages from Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as the other party leaders pledging their support to the campaign. I was able to meet people whose work I had studied, such as Vince Cable the then-Business Secretary.

Myself and the producer went out with the campaign workers and party supporters canvassing on the ground and spoke to MPs about the wide variety of work that they had done before standing. This helped me to change my views about politics being dependent on small circles of privileged people. While it can appear to be this way in the media, I did encounter people across a broad range of society.

Continuing to raise awareness

I hope that my video reports and the Every Vote Counts campaign have convinced more people that those with learning disabilities have an important part to play in wider society. The Every Vote Counts campaign was about getting people to take part in the election, and now it is becoming easier for people to be incorporated into the workforce thanks to the increase in accessible technology and information.

United Response has said that they’d like to continue making videos about current or topical events with me after my final Every Vote Counts report comes out on Monday because of the impact that the political correspondent video reports have had.

I intend to become more involved with social media outlets such as Twitter after seeing the importance of them. People need to have sources of information that explain things and their context – just because we have a thousand feeds of data, we cannot keep assuming that everybody automatically knows how something in society works.  

Gemma Taylor, media assistant.

Throughout this week, David has spoken with Justin Tomlinson, the new Minister for Disabled People; Kate Green MP, the Shadow Disabilities Minister; and Steve Double, MP for David’s home constituency of St Austell and Newquay.

Check out David’s interview with Justin Tomlinson MP on the importance of helping remove barriers to work and reducing the disability employment gap – and keep an eye out for the final film, which concludes his work on Every Vote Counts, coming soon!