Following the hectic, post-election weeks of staying on top of new Government policy proposals and Ministerial appointments, things are – slightly! – quieter now that Parliament is in recess.

Here at United Response, we are keeping track of how changes resulting from the Welfare Reform Bill and the Chancellor’s Emergency Budget might affect people we support when the House returns.

We want to see a society where the best interests of people with learning disabilities, mental or physical support needs, and their families and carers are taken into account.

Disabled people should always receive the appropriate support to live independently, be fully included in society and, where able to, supported to look for and stay in work.

To this end, United Response is staying in touch with the Government and Opposition so that the voices of people we support, and their families and carers, are heard at Westminster.

We have a good relationship with MPs on both sides of the House, and with relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers. Many MPs have a personal interest in disability, mental health and social care issues, and we ask them for their support for the work that we do, and the appeals and campaigns that we run.

Supported living and employment

With Parliament in recess, the legislative agenda grinds to a halt, but MPs have a great opportunity to reach across communities, get properly involved in local issues and catch up with constituents.

Dr Tania Mathias, MP for Twickenham, is a big supporter of United Response, and is hoping to visit one of our services in her constituency during the summer break.

Our vibrant supported living service in Teddington supports young people to live independent lives just like any other group of 20-somethings.

With our support, this group live together in a shared house, have full social lives, enjoy barbecues with friends and neighbours, and have even held community street parties. This group were also supported to find and maintain paid employment; they are holding down a range of jobs in professions such as health, leisure, gardening and maintenance.  

With a small amount of investment in terms of care, planning and support, these young disabled people are able to live their lives to the full and enjoy the same experiences as any other young professionals starting independent lives in London.

This service, and all of our other supported living and supported employment services, demonstrate the reason the United Response exists: we believe that people with disabilities are equal participants in society, and should have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

United Response is getting Disability Confident

Towards the end of recess, Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green MP is holding a Disability Confident event with Mike Kane MP to demonstrate to local businesses in Manchester that disabled people are a highly valuable commodity as employees.

Our Trafford Supported Employment Service will be giving a presentation at the event demonstrating the advantages to businesses of taking on disabled people as members of staff.

Many of the people we now support have struggled for years to get into the workplace. In our experience, if they are lucky enough to get a job, their level of commitment to the position is unparalleled due to the barriers they have overcome to get there in the first place.

Reports from employers who have worked with United Response indicate that in areas such as retail, data entry and maintenance, there is often a high turnover of short-term employees who sometimes lack commitment.

The people we support who have been given job opportunities have demonstrated unbridled commitment, high attention to detail (particularly among people with autism) and very low levels of absenteeism.

The Disability Confident event will be held at 10.30am on Friday 25th September at Vodafone UK, Atlas House, Atlas Business Park, Wythenshawe, Manchester M22 5RR.

On the horizon: conferences

At the end of recess, the party political conference season begins.

United Response will be right there, representing the people we support and encouraging politicians from both the Government and Opposition to ensure that right support is in place for disabled people to live independently, be fully included in society and, where able, to enter and stay in the workplace.

John JC Cooper, campaigns and public affairs manager.

There is a strong business case for employing people with disabilities – check out our 8 reasons why your business will benefit.