On Tuesday evening, we launched our Every Vote Counts campaign at a Parliamentary reception in the House of Commons. The event was very well attended by MPs from all the main political parties, people supported by United Response and representatives from organisations keen to lend their support to the campaign.

Key spokespeople from the political parties contributed speeches about the importance of engaging people with learning disabilities in the democratic process in a discussion hosted by United Response President and broadcaster Martyn Lewis CBE.

United Response would like to thank our long term supporter, Dame Anne Begg MP, for sponsoring the event.

At the launch, Dame Begg spoke about the difference that people with learning disabilities could make to an election result if they all voted and highlighted the importance of MPs and candidates building personal connections with constituents with learning disabilities, if they want to secure their vote.

Disabilities Minister Mark Harper MP couldn’t make the event, but The Right Honourable Paul Burstow MP, the Liberal Democrat’s Disabilities spokesperson, talked about the importance of providing people with information in easy read, so that they can weigh up the information and decide who to vote for based on the issues that are important to them. He also confirmed that the Liberal Democrats would be producing an easy read version of its manifesto for the 2015 General Election.

And Kate Green OBE MP, the shadow disabilities minster, told people with learning disabilities: “We desperately need to hear the voices of people with learning disabilities in our electoral system, because people here are making decisions about your lives.”

The Right Honourable Caroline Spelman MP described how this issue receives complete cross party support. She told us about meeting people with learning disabilities whilst campaigning at the last election, and realising that she did not have the adapted materials that she needed. She insisted that this would not happen at the forthcoming election.

In addition to the speeches, Ian Coley, who is supported by United Response in Middlesex, and Jermaine Williams from Greater Manchester, were interviewed by Martyn Lewis and informed the assembled MPs and guests about some of the barriers people with learning disabilities face in the democratic process.

Jermaine told us about the important role that easy read resources play in informing this section of the electorate about how politics affects them, how it works and how to vote. Ian told the assembled MPs how they need to reach out to constituents with learning disabilities to discuss things that are important to them.

Our guests were able to talk to our digital team and check out United Response’s new Every Vote Counts website. Please do take a look at the website yourself. Guests were also able to view our recent video interviews with Jermaine and Ian.

All the MPs who attended agreed, that greater engagement between people with learning disabilities and politicians is mutually beneficial. Just as people with learning disabilities enrich their lives by voting and becoming active, engaged citizens; MPs need as many votes as possible for a general election coming up in less than 6 months’ time.

MPs received their own guide to making information easier to understand for people with learning disabilities, as well as copies of the Every Vote Counts resources. You can find out how to get your own copy of the resources here.

United Response’s digital and social media team were live tweeting from the reception. To check out the latest go to @unitedresponse or search for hashtag #EVC.

John Cooper, campaigns manager.