As part of our Every Vote Counts campaign ahead of the upcoming General Election, United Response has visited colleges, day centres and supported living houses to start discussions about the impact politics has on our everyday lives.

We visited New Malden's Orchard Hill College, a non-residential specialist college for students over 16 years old with learning difficulties and mental health needs, to speak to students about the political process. Ahead of the discussion, the students had been asked to watch or read the national news and write about a story or issue that was important to them. One noted that wheelchair access was a key concern, while climate change and traffic problems were also mentioned.

The group was interested to discover that all of these things, and many other things that happen every day, are about politics and we used our Every Vote Counts resources to better explain how politics affects everyone's life.

Easy read gets a big thumbs up

Using the easy read format within the booklets seemed to strike a chord with the group, so we then showed them Easy News, our bi-monthly easy read news magazine that uses simple words and accompanying images to explain news stories.

One student told us: “I understand the news a lot better after reading it; the pictures make it easier and it isn’t as long as a normal news story so it’s more interesting.”

We also asked the group to tell us about which issues were most important to them, following the popularity of our interactive voting board at the Learning Disability Today event we attended at the end of last year.

The vast majority of the group said that having enough money was the most important thing to them, while two noted that having the same rights and opportunities as everyone else was a priority.

Every Vote Counts helps people feel more involved

It is clear that sessions such as this encourage discussion and promote a feeling of being involved in the issues of the day. This is why we are so keen to promote accessible information, particularly ahead of the General Election.

The group’s teacher Amanda Stark believes that accessibility has helped the group to feel more involved in politics. She said: "The group really enjoyed the easy read format and it gave them a clearer understanding of the events.

“The trainees have continued to read the easy read books we have out at all times; they are surprised at how a newspaper bores them, but in the easy read format they can understand what is happening in the news, particularly around the upcoming election.

“We have been using the material to start discussions about the election, which has been a great way to get them involved.”

Find out more about Every Vote Counts, or subscribe to Easy News.

Gemma Taylor, media assistant.